Cookies, hot cocoa, pick-me-up notes: 'Sparks' of kindness

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

In this Nov. 20, 2020 photo, a bag containing pennies and a note encouraging passersby to make a wish is placed by Debbie McFarland near a fountain in Peachtree City, Georgia. McFarland is the founder of the Facebook group Sparks of Kindness, a community of people going out of their way to put a smile on the faces of others through small but touching good deeds. (Debbie McFarland via AP)

A tin of cookies is left on the running board of an ambulance outside a nursing home with a note for the emergency workers who operate it: “You’re AMAZING! Yes, you!”

A baggie sits on the edge of a fountain with dozens of copper coins and another message, for anyone who passes by and fancies tossing one in: “Take a penny. Make a wish! Hope your dreams come true.”

This is the world of Sparks of Kindness, an online community of people going out of their way to put a smile on the faces of others through small but touching good deeds, especially in tumultuous times of pandemic, protests and political division.

“There’s so much bad in the world, and that’s kind of what we hear about,” said Debbie McFarland, a 53-year-old photographer from Peachtree City, Georgia, who founded the group on Facebook. “But I found that there’s so many people that want to do good — they just don’t really know how to start.”

That’s where Sparks of Kindness comes in. It has lists of ideas for “sparks,” or small kindnesses people can do such as thanking a teacher with candy or leaving coloring books in a hospital waiting room.

Users share their ideas and stories in the forum. Among them:

— “Took flowers to the neighbor. She had been caring for a sick friend and thought she could use a little cheer.”

— “I gave the guy in front of me $20 since his debit didn’t go through. My emergency $20 came in handy... he hugged me, so I may get Covid, but he was very appreciative!”