Reddit user u/slizsarbleh shone a light on humanity by opening up a treasure trove of heartwarming stories of selflessness.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 11, 2022. It has since been updated.
As selfish and heartless as our species might seem at times, a single individual's unconditional kindness or generosity to a fellow human being possesses the power to shine through even the darkest of days. Reddit user u/slizsarbleh shone a light on humanity when she opened up a treasure trove of heartwarming stories of selflessness by posing this question to the AskReddit community: "What is something you’ve done purely out of the goodness of your heart, but have never told anyone?"
Here are 25 of the most inspiring responses to the Reddit user's query:
"I was in my art class in high school and there was a girl who I didn't really know a few grades younger. I could tell she didn't have many friends but was really sweet. She was talking to me one day and told me her birthday was soon and that she was so excited. I decided to send her those balloons and whatnot you can get through the student store on her birthday, though she didn't know me very well so I didn't sign my name. It just so happened that the student store worker brought them in during our art class and I got to see her reaction. She lit up and kept telling us it had to have been her mom or her best friend who did it, and how she couldn't believe that someone got her something and she wouldn't stop smiling the whole rest of class. I never told her it was me, I was just happy she felt special. That was a pretty good day." — Rbbbb30
"Back when quarantine and stuff first started, I was headed back from the store and came across a broken-down car. He had almost made it into the CVS parking lot, but the car gave out just outside of it. I pulled into the parking lot and asked if he wanted a push out of the road, he did. I pushed the car, and got it halfway up the little incline going into the parking lot, but couldn't get it any further by myself (he had a bad leg and couldn't help... plus he needed to be behind the wheel), but it was out of the street. I asked him what happened, and he told me he had run out of gas. Asked if he had a gas can, and he pulled out a small gas can, I offered to run it down to the gas station and bring it back. On the way back from filling it up, I began to think to myself that this little bit of gas wouldn't get him very far, and as I had just gotten paid and had just pulled some cash from the bank, figured he could use a little help.
When I got to the guy, I gave him the gas can as well as $40 and I told him, 'I'm not sure how far you need to go, but that little bit of gas isn't gonna get you very far, I hope this helps you out some.' He just looked at the money and back at me, like I'd given him the keys to a new house or something. He started telling me, "I get paid tomorrow, I can give you my address and I will pay you back" but I insisted I didn't want anything in return. He looked like he was on the verge of tears. He explained how he had just gotten out of jail a few months before and was trying really hard to stay on the right path, working an honest job and everything, but that it was hard. He told me he would take my kindness as a sign that he was on the right path and thanked me several times. Had I known how much it meant to him, I would've given him more. I hope he's doing well." — Klown1327
"I went to the website: onesimplewish.org which specializes in providing foster kids with things they wouldn't ordinarily get. An 11-year-old was asking for a bike for his birthday, but his foster family couldn't afford to buy him one. For less than $200 I paid for the kid's new bike." — dartdoug
"Waiting to see my doctor. I see an elderly man with a walker talking to a driver service for seniors/handicapped people about getting him a ride home. Apparently, there was a mix-up and they couldn't get a driver there. My doctor called me in and when I came out, the elderly man was still there talking to the driver service. I told the guy if he trusts me I'll take him home. He responded, "but I haven't seen the doctor yet." I told him I'll wait. Dude looked like he was going to cry.
He was actually a really nice man and it was a pleasant ride." — shaka_sulu
"It’s not much, but whenever I see a work of art online, be it a painting/drawing, original music, a dance, creative writing, etc, I always try to leave a small compliment/acknowledgement of their work because I know how much courage it takes to post your creative work online." — Pan-or-Ace
"If I'm walking a trail and I see a tree or sapling is damaged I do my best to either mend its injury or remove the broken part to let the tree grow unencumbered. It's rewarding to come back after a year or two to see the sapling you helped take good roots and refuse to wither." — SkyAdministrative970
"I saw this homeless man eating some pizza and after we talked a bit, I let him use my shower and offered to let him sleep on my couch for the night. He declined the couch, but his laughter in the shower made me really smile. I've never told anyone this." — Trick_Enthusiasm
"A lady was fleeing an abusive marriage without much more than her kids and the clothes on her back. Word went out within a whisper network requesting a few essentials she needed.
Packed up several things from the request list and also one thing that wasn't requested. I make jewelry as a hobby. Put a pair of handmade earrings into a gift bag: silver and pearls. Added a handwritten note that every woman deserves something beautiful and sending good wishes her way." — doublestitch
"I work night shift and one night before work, I stopped at the local Walmart to grab a few snacks, etc. This young guy stops me in the parking lot and asks me for money. I said I was sorry I didn’t have any cash.
It was blistering cold outside. Where I live, in the winter the wind blows so hard and so cold you can get frostbite.
I got to the door of the Walmart and turned around and went and found him in the parking lot. I told him to follow me in and wait at the McDonalds inside. I went into the store, bought him long underwear, a thermal shirt, wool socks, and gloves. I got back to him, gave him the stuff, and bought him a meal at McDonald’s. He was so thankful for the warm clothes he started to cry. As I was leaving the McDonald’s, a lady put her hand on my arm and said “that was very nice of you. I watched everything you did.” I just nodded and walked away. Don’t need recognition for that. He needed something and I was in a position to help him, so I did." — LaVieLaMort
"I'm a member of a Sims group on FB where people talk about the game, expansion packs etc. I noticed a comment by a teenager who said her favourite pack would be Pets but she can't afford it. I went onto her page and saw that she really loved horses. I could also tell from her pictures that her mum was disabled and money looked tight. I was fortunate enough when I was her age to always get the packs on the release dates and I used The Sims as a wind down from revising and school. I thought that this girl needed the escapism way more than I ever did so I bought every expansion pack, messaged her the activation codes, a link to a YouTube video on how to use them, and a short message saying I hope you enjoy playing and to keep smiling.
I really do wish her the very best." — MariaOSullivan
"A lot of homeless people in Lahaina (on the island of Maui) get by on fishing. One night, while leaving a restaurant, my girlfriend and I saw an elderly man sleeping near the Old Banyan tree. She pointed out that the fishing pole next to him had been snapped multiple times, with splintered ends and everything (probably by some a-hole tourist). Knowing that fishing pole was how he'd kept himself fed and seeing his livelihood compromised like that really bothered us. So my girlfriend and I got in my car and drove to the only Walmart on the island in Kahului (all the stores in Lahaina usually close by sundown).
We bought a new fishing pole and gear and drove back to Lahaina. Fearing the cops might suspect him of stealing this new gear, my girlfriend wrote a note on the receipt saying, 'Hold on to this,' and left it in the tacklebox. When we got back to the Banyan tree, I set the gear down next to the old man. The next day, we saw him fishing with the new pole on Front street.
Please remember to Practice Aloha." — WatchingInSilence
"I lost my mom earlier this year and am still working through the grief. The first week a came back my coworkers had gave me a check for several hundred dollars as a kind gesture. I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity.
The following week I came into the break room to find one of the techs with a lost look on her face. She had just gotten a phone call that her brother had been murdered the night before. She had moved to our city just a year prior and didn’t have any family close by. As I held her and listened to her cry, I booked her a flight home. It was several hundred dollars as she is from a small town and the flight was for later that day. I told her to go be with family and let me know when she was ready to come back. I had no doubt that is exactly what my mom would have wanted me to do." — thatgirlmocha
"My mum had saved forever to buy herself her dream dining table and chairs. They were super expensive but she had a picture on the fridge, saved for a year and [I] knew she’d have them forever. I visited one day when she wasn't home (my parents have no issue with us coming over without them there) and noticed the dogs had gotten in and absolutely destroyed one - they were still untrained puppies and had ripped off all the material, buttons, etc.. I popped it in my car, threw it out, found a place an hour away with the same chair and bought it ($300 chair so wasn’t cheap!). She doesn’t know because she would’ve A) been shattered but found a way to fix it as best as possible, which honestly would’ve been impossible. And B) refused for me to replace something at that cost.
I’m just glad it was me who saw it first. She’s happy and always comments on how nice her table is and how she will have it forever, lol!" — ChannelSignificant63
"I do IT work, usually small business and a lot of home repair. I have many wealthy clients and a few not so fortunate. It is not unusual for me to go to a home and it is obvious they are barely scraping by. So I either don't charge those people, or make it a nominal fee. I also refurb the old PC's and give them to people who have one that is not repairable.
My best fee ever was a basket of home grown creole tomatoes, damn those things are delicious." — Disposable70
"On winter weekdays when I go downtown to practice the organ, there's usually a destitute man on the front steps of the locked church.
When I unlock the door, I invite him in out of the cold and let him sleep on a cushioned pew in the relative warmth of the building while I practice or teach organ lessons.
He's always very appreciative of the relief from being outside and leaves with obvious appreciation when it's time for me go." — Back2Bach
"My friend from college was struggling to get the money to pay for his cat’s surgery. We did everything we could to raise the money, I even asked my father to put this little donation box on his craftbeer bar, but we were still missing a few bucks. My friend doesn’t know it, but I added some really good money to the box before handling it to him and, omg, I still remember how grateful he was when he saw the money was more than enough… He also told me, after the surgery, that he never believed we could make it but he saw the dedication I put into it and believed in me." — overstiches
"At the beginning of the pandemic, I was volunteering at a local pizza shop to distribute slices to kids who otherwise couldn't get fed because the schools were shut down.
There was a woman with 3 kids that came by every few days to get slices. Turns out the father had died unexpectedly right before the pandemic started and they lost their house because of the slumlord they were renting from. The mother lost her job because she had no one to watch the kids. They were living in their minivan and things were bad for them.
They were so nice and grateful, but ashamed when they'd come by to get slices that I genuinely felt for them.
I had lost my job and got a pretty decent windfall of 2 months worth of unemployment and the CARES Act at once. My landlord had a few properties open and is a close friend, so I got in touch with him and we worked out me paying their security deposit and the first 2 months of rent and he'd cover their utilities.
I gave her his number and said he might be able to help and they moved in the next day. They've been there ever since and are doing extremely well now." — eyexxiii