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How to Be a Good Neighbor: Build Kindness in Your Community

Do we all practice random acts of kindness – and do we make an effort to spread that kindness around to the people who live nearest us? Here are 10 ways to be a wonderful neighbor.

“Commence silly walk now”, the sign by the sidewalk read. So, naturally, I started silly walking, hoping that the residents of the house were watching out their front windows to admire my (lack of) grace and poise.

My dog, Ozzie, chose to walk his normal way, which isn’t silly at all. He did at least stop to sniff the sign.

As we moved on, I thought of what a simple, but impactful, act of kindness to neighbors this family showed just by posting a small sign by the sidewalk in front of their home.

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I wondered how many people elected to participate in this silly walk request.

I hope a lot of them did – because the silly walk request by strangers gave me such a warm, happy feeling. The sign showed their effort to bring a smile and a laugh to the day of each passerby. A simple act of kindness to their neighbors.

As I continued walking, I thought of the many wonderful acts of neighborly kindness I have experienced. These acts have been particularly noticeable since we all became house-bound by this disruptive coronavirus.

I’d like to share a few ways to be a wonderful neighbor:

  • Organize an Outdoor Concert
  • Plan a Street Picnic and Party
  • Leave Surprise Front Porch Gifts
  • Create “Thank You” Signs
  • Get Creative with chalk Art
  • Randomly Scatter Painted Rocks
  • Give away Your Extra Backyard Fruit
  • Send a Message with a Reader Board
  • Build and Stock a Little Library
  • Donate a Ball Basket to a local park

Times like this, even though tragic and devastating, bond us together as neighbors.

Jerry Reed

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group of neighbors gathered around a front porch talking, acts of kindness to neighbors

How to Be a Good Neighbor

Here are some experiences I’ve been a part of as either a planner or guest, all of which have expressed great kindness to neighbors:

1. Organize an Outdoor Concert

One of the most memorable events of the coronavirus “season” took place on our cul-de-sac last week.

One of our neighbors hired an amazing violinist to serenade us all for a half-hour. He set up in the middle of the court, and we sat in camp chairs spaced out around him.

So much beautiful music – we had many unexpected walkers and bike riders stop to hear him play, too.

I think everyone went home with a smile and a tear in their eye!

2. Plan a Street Picnic and Party

Even while keeping social distancing rules in effect, neighbors are gathering for happy hours, drive-by birthday and graduation parties, and even picnics and barbeques.

We have held several happy hours in our driveways over the last few months, and it is so uplifting to spend even a few minutes connecting with our neighbors.

Last night, the smell of grilled chicken was powerful on our back patio. It turned out the neighbors on the street just up the hill from us had gathered for an outdoor dinner.

Each family provided their own tables, chairs, dinnerware, and side dishes, and one person grilled chicken for them all to share. Based on the laughter we could hear, they had a wonderful time!

group of friends having a picnic under trees, ways to be a wonderful neighbor

3. Leave Surprise Front Porch Gifts

Remember playing “DingDongDash” when you were young? You know, where you would ring a random doorbell, and run away before the door opened?

It seems to be popular in our neighborhood now, except people are leaving little gifts on the porch before disappearing!

Baked goods, wildflower bouquets, candy jars, and homegrown vegetables seem to be among the more popular surprises people are receiving.

This act is the most fun when it’s done anonymously, leaving neighbors to wonder who left their unexpected gift.

4. How to be a good neighbor using “Thank You” Signs

“Thank you, first responders” “We love our teachers” and “We appreciate essential workers” – there are signs cropping up all around town, in front yards of private homes, on street corners, displayed across the tops of fences.

Some are professionally produced, some homemade, and many are obviously created by children.

But they all convey the sincere message that they recognize the efforts others have made to maintain health, education, safety, and some semblance of normalcy during a decidedly abnormal time.

5. Get Creative with chalk Art

Not just for kids anymore, I’ve spotted chalk creations everywhere lately – everything from hopscotch grids to declarations of “congratulations, graduate” and “happy birthday Grandma”.

In the park near our house, someone placed a box of chalk near a concrete block wall, along with the beginnings of a mural. Countless people have added to the drawing, leaving messages, signing names, and other personal touches.

Being a good neighbor is an art which makes life richer.

Gladys Taber

6. how to be a good neighbor with Painted Rocks

Throughout my neighborhood, someone has taken the time to hand paint any number (10? 100?) of rocks and pebbles and placed them in locations where they can be spotted by anyone walking down the sidewalk.

Many of them have sweet messages of hope.

Some have just smiles or flowers or random designs.

All of them are a sweet surprise when they are spotted.

7. Give away Your Extra Backyard Fruit

Living in southern California, many houses here are blessed with fruit trees of all varieties – orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomegranate, and avocado, to name just a few. When these trees produce, they really produce, with far more fruit than any one family can consume.

It’s become commonplace to see “help yourself” baskets of fruit at the base of many driveways, so passersby can stock up on any fruit they like.

The donated fruit is a blessing for those who have no fruit trees, and a wonderful way to reduce food waste.

woman giving basket of oranges, ways to be a wonderful neighbor

8. Send a Message with a Reader Board

Several houses have placed posters propped on easels in their front yards.

The messages change daily, and include quotes, humorous drawings, and jokes of the day.

Everyone who walks or rides by can enjoy them!

9. Build and Stock a Little Library

Little libraries have been fashionable for several years now.

These small libraries with a “help yourself” message crop up most often near schools, playgrounds, and parks.

The books are donated by individuals who have finished reading them, and anyone is free to borrow any book they would like.

One popular library in our town lives in a little red children’s wagon, and is known to pop up on different street corners each day. The motto is “take one, leave one” so there is a constantly evolving collection of books for both children and adults. The wagon is usually filled to overflowing.

10. Donate a Ball Basket to a local park

This one is for the dogs! Some wonderful soul has placed a basket full of old tennis balls at the park nearest my house. They are for anyone to use to play fetch with their dogs while visiting the park. I’ve kept an eye on it, and everyone seems to be putting the balls back in the basket for others when they leave.

Ozzie and I love having these balls waiting for us at the park!

Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.

Mr. Rogers

Read More About Kindness:

Final Thoughts on How to Be a Good Neighbor: Build Kindness in Your Community

These are a few very simple acts of kindness to neighbors, ways I have witnessed in my own life during this unsettling time.

I’m sure there are many, many other things people are doing to create and maintain connections to those they live around.

While it’s always easy to spot the negative aspects of our current situation, I wanted to take this brief moment to shine a light on the good that exists every day in our world.

What have you seen or done that you could add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

group of neighbors gathered on front porch preparing for a picnic, acts of kindness to neighbors

12 thoughts on “How to Be a Good Neighbor: Build Kindness in Your Community”

  1. Some really wonderful ideas. I especially like the front porch gift idea. We did the drive by birthday parade for my six year old granddaughter. The best part was it was a surprise birthday parade. She really enjoyed it.

  2. Love this so much. We have had picnics using good stage distancing and birthday parades. Fabulous! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Arent’ picnics and parades so much fun – these are the type of things I hope continue even after the virus days. I’m so glad you read, enjoyed and commented – I appreciate it, Rebecca!

  3. I wish more people would do some of these and more acts of kindness. We could use these, not just during these times but all the time. Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Great list. I see a lot of the appreciation signs to first responders in my neighborhood. Yours make me want to try something. I especially like the “front porch gift” idea.

    Excellent post. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, the first responder signs are pretty prevalent – and well deserved, too. I hope you do try out the front porch gift idea – I know you will feel great when you do! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

    1. I’m glad you liked these ideas, Michelle! I wish I could take credit for them, but of course, they are all my favorite ideas that I have gathered as I’ve seen them occur. Yes, surprised on the front porch are special! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. I love this! All great ideas that anyone can do. The best thing about kindness is that it doesn’t have to cost anything at all! Thank you for sharing.

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