A former Seattle resident's plan to celebrate her birthday with random acts of kindness took on even more meaning following the school massacre in Connecticut.
For months, Tamara Auster and her family have been planning her 47th birthday. They decided it would be all about giving instead of receiving.
The Austers called their project, "Kindness Inspires Kindness." Their goal was to do 47 random acts of kindness around the Bay Area.
"I didn't want to just go to Nordstrom and hand out $5 gift cards. I wanted it to mean something," Tamara told KIRO Radio.
So she and her husband and their twin daughters spent weeks creating gifts for all ages and wrapping everything in clear cellophane with holiday ribbons and special messages of hope and joy.
When Tamara's birthday finally arrived Sunday, they dressed up in Santa outfits and hit the streets of San Francisco early, dropping off toys and warm blankets at a fire station, giving Christmas cards to residents at a nursing home, and delivering magazines to a hospital.
"We went into different waiting rooms and we left the magazines and these little hope and joy boxes that had a tag on it and candy inside. We just scattered those around."
Then, a stop at a laundromat. "I knew how much it would cost for a load of laundry and I had it in a Ziploc bag with a note and I taped it to an outside door and said this load is on me, and left a giant sized laundry detergent," said Auster.
Auster, who spent part of her childhood in Seattle, said almost everyone was touched by what she and her family were doing. But she says there was one woman who wasn't eager to accept their gifts.
Auster's daughter didn't understand why the woman would turn down their gift. Auster told her, "That's okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and maybe her filter that she looks through the world is kind of closed off. But that's OK and that's her and there are a lot of other people around us and we're going to find another person to give this too."
They did. By the end of the night, they ended up doing even more than the 47 acts of kindness they originally planned: 135.
After 135 acts of kindness Auster said they could have kept going. And the fact that her birthday was just a few days after the Connecticut massacre, gave the actions even more meaning to the Austers.
"Our hearts and everyone around us were in tune to giving kindness, sharing kindness, loving your kids more and sharing patience. At the end of the day that's all I really wanted my birthday to be."
As we all continue to grieve as a nation, Auster hopes to help in the healing process by inspiring others to open their hearts.
"Giving kindness?" she asked. "Anyone can do it. It's a frame of mind, it's the place of your heart and you don't need a birthday to do it."