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Illustrations by Amber Vittoria.

Kindness often costs very little, yet its value is immense. During these challenging times, we asked readers to share stories of sweet, unexpected gestures from friends, neighbors and strangers.

There’s no shortage of reasons to be stressed and afraid nowadays, but there are spots of hope worth savoring, too. The eight anecdotes below were chosen from nearly 90 submissions — look closely, and you can spy kindness in every corner.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

“I’m 72 with significant blood pressure issues. I’m, therefore, in that unenviable category of being at highest risk. I’ve been in lockdown now for a week. My neighbors have kept me sane and stocked with food. They’ve also set times to come out on their porches while I stand in their yard, and we talk. My best friend and I share a daily phone call at the time we would most likely be going out to dinner. These are the people and the things that will get me through.”

“Random acts of kindness are all around us — in nature. This morning, the songbirds returned to the woods and sang for us, the wind blew and brought in a hint of spring. Nature is always there for us. Let’s keep a promise to give back. We are all in this along with the planet, the stars, the future.”

“I decided to order takeout to do my little part to help support local restaurants. I ordered through DoorDash. Unfortunately, no driver ever showed up to the restaurant to make the delivery. I called the restaurant and offered to pay for the food and have the owner take the food for his own family. I explained that I didn’t need the food but had ordered it just to support his restaurant. He was having none of that. He insisted on bringing the food to me himself after the restaurant closed. And he did just that ... and more. When I looked through my order, there was something extra. It was sticky rice with sliced mango around it, like a flower. There was a note in marker scrawled on the top of the box that said, ‘Thank you so much for your support. :)’”

“A teenage boy in our church has been struggling with a brain tumor. He cannot have visitors, obviously. The members of our church and his friends in the community decided to show him love and support last night by doing a ‘drive-by.’ Hundreds of cars drove slowly past his house in the dark tooting their horns. How encouraging that we can still find creative ways to reach out to each other!”

“My friend Heather texted me to check in. She manages a local Starbucks and asked if we could use some coffee. As parents of two young girls (2 and 4) trying to work from home for the first time, of course we needed coffee! She asked about our preferences and promised to drop off a pound of freshly ground coffee that afternoon. When I opened the door to her package, I found not just coffee, but a ‘self-isolation survival kit’ complete with activities for the kids, a mini daffodil plant, a bottle of wine, scratch-off lottery tickets and other treats. I was so grateful, I teared up. It felt like a big, warm hug to know that someone had thought about our whole family and was taking care of us.”

“My husband is a Vietnam veteran. He belongs to a group that meets for breakfast every Thursday morning at a local restaurant. Since we have been asked to stay home and all restaurants and bars are closed except for takeout, the Vietnam veterans’ organization that he belongs to has devised a way for the men and women who usually attend the breakfast to donate tips that will be sent to the waitresses that take care of them on Thursday mornings. These men and women who served our country are continuing to serve their community.”

“While having some routine bloodwork last week, my 96-year-old father-in-law mentioned to the nurse that he and his wife had only one roll of toilet paper left at home and could not find any in his neighborhood supermarket. He asked her if she knew of a place he might go to find some. She said she did not. That evening, just as he and his wife were finishing up dinner, there was a knock on the door. It was that same nurse with a large package of toilet paper. She and her friend searched at least 10 stores until they found what he needed, and would not take a penny for their troubles. How wonderful some folks are!"

“Recently, a Girl Scout mom delivered cookies to our home after I ordered via text. She had just been to the grocery store and was thrilled to have found a multi-pack of disinfectant wipes. When I asked her where she found them, because I hadn’t been able to find any, she thrust a container into my hands. I tried to give her cash, and even to return a box of cookies. She wouldn’t take any payment and said, ‘This is a time when we all need to be kind.’”

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