Kindness is neighbors saying “Buenos Dias”.            It’s the man in the red shirt helping the woman in the floral blouse cross the street.               It’s the way my heart sings when I’m smiling at a baby, and their mom notices and lifts up the baby’s sweet little hand and waves it at me.             A friend patiently waiting as you quickly tie your loose shoelaces, while everyone continues walking.            A slight buzz in your jean pockets indicating messages from friends appearing out of the blue, questioning how you might be feeling that day, written in text abbreviations, the shared teenage experience.              Getting woken up at my bus stop.



A simple suggestion for UK schools & college Years
(and clusters of friends, families, friends, teams, social groups,
or thoughtful individuals)

to watch for, note down and share examples of
people's simple graciousness...

to cherish and share as a collection on-screen
or a graphic DIY Poetree... 

...and appreciate that the eyes and voice
of a poet like this really can change
how we see things

    The cafeteria lady saying “thank you” to each person as they buy their meals.            Opening up a handwritten letter from your friend instead of a text.              And sometimes, especially during the pandemic, the way you say a short prayer for whoever is in the blaring red and white ambulance, when you walk by.          I feel your kindness in how you don’t mind when I look off while I speak.        When my sister sets the table when it’s my turn.       When I walk my dog and the people with bigger dogs cross to the other side of the street, smiling at me, avoiding a barking mess between our dogs, knowing how nervous my dog can be.      When someone lets me know that the clasp of my necklace has rotated to the front.      When I recommend my favorite book to someone at the library and they check it out because of how much I love the characters.          When my sister taps me on the shoulder and says I saved my last fry for you.          When I share little tidbits about my day, and your dark, loamy eyes widen with curiosity.      I think about the girl in my history class who hardly speaks complimenting my shoes.          Of how, during performances for my high school orchestra, our conductor will gaze around at all of us before each piece and if any of us looks nervous, make eye contact and give us a subtle nod as if to say “everything’s okay”.   Of the soft-spoken singer who leaves her rusty blue window open when she sings.       Of having someone compliment an article of clothing that you were maybe unsure of before.  Of how the 6:42 a.m. nod from my train conductor in the dark, early winter mornings tells me in unspoken words that he wishes me a good day.       How the guard at Fordham University’s station house knowing my name amongst a flood of students passing by him and fist-bumps me saying, “Take it easy today, Carmine”.    

Hugh Gibbons

Conductor of Just1
and owner of this
1960s tennis racquet used to
make an example of a
Poetree - with the branches
being examples of
small kindnesses



This page was updated on
04 June 2024

"How wonderful!" That was the kind response of Danusha Lameris on seeing what I've created using her world-loved poem Small Kindnesses as its heart and start. So: welcome to what you should find fun with its sleeves rolled up.


Handfuls of Small Kindnesses and Poetrees are my suggested variant of an uplifting US-born idea.  It's simple, free, has no sacrosanct rules - and needs no budget!  Anyone taking part just has to...

  • Read that short, world-admired poem about kindnesses (below)

  • Watch out for small kindnesses to them or someone else - seen at school, at home, with friends, at work, in social activities, in jobs or leisure, here or anywhere

  • After a while, collect them up - as a handful of kindnesses

  • Air and share with whoever, wherever, however, whenever - on paper, on-screen (and maybe as a home-grown Poetree collage display - see below).

They're made to bring a big smile to UK students, teachers of PSHE/RE/Humanities, chaplains, families, friends. And all sorts other people may like to have a go as a group.


Handfuls & Poetrees are not so much about anyone being kind as recognising and appreciating the kindnesses that other people around offer them - raising awareness of everyday graciousness.


So it's an additional resource in teaching the life-long value of being thankful - and keeping eyes open - for example as a contribution to PSHE or RE studies. And as it's for young people of all ages, it chimes well with the annual World Kindness Day each 13 November.


You'll find full information below - including a PDF briefing.


With best wishes, and many thanks for your kindness in reading this far.


Hugh Gibbons

Conductor of Just1


Main web
This page


with more ideas for schools at

NB UK organisations
expert in the teaching Kindness field
to be aware of - tapping into
World Kindness Day
on 13 November



The School of Kindness
is one practical activity of the remarkable 52 Lives Charity which puts people's kindness into effect every week.

See the many surprising and heart-warming stories at



Also with many resources and links for schools is



And at the University of Sussex
is the
Centre for Research on Kindness


Their annual report below is an eye-opening read!


And in the USA there's a splendid array of activities with

I love when my friends include me in conversations when I go quiet.         The respectful muffled voices we find in the library, only found as we walk through that large, rough wood door.       When a stranger asks, “Which floor are you headed to?” as you walk into the elevator.     When a woman goes to the animal shelter and makes small talk with the dogs       When the random couple at Walmart warns me, “Your shoes are untied”.         When you walk into your friend’s house and hear their mother say “hi” like you are their own.             When someone whispers to you that your mascara is smudged, or your shirt is buttoned wrong, to save you embarrassment later in the day.     When you say something so sweet and plentiful it makes me want to cry it makes me smile and want to stay awhile longer makes my heart want to beat stronger.     When I buy ice tea with 4 quarters 12 dimes 4 pennies and the man at the cash register thanks me for the extra change.      When a woman pays for the BBQ chips that me and my friend could not afford.         When guards in my apartment building hold the door for me and say “morning”. 
  The home of the idea - California > New York
> the World

In September 2019 The New York Times Magazine ran a poem by Danusha Laméris (left) a poet in California, which has had worldwide appeal for all ages. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye said in the Magazine: “Sometimes a poem just strikes a precise moment. Small Kindnesses, by Danusha Laméris, feels utterly necessary for our time — a poem celebrating minor, automatic graciousness within a community, which can shine a penetrating light. It’s a catalog of small encouragements, unfolding as might a child’s palm filled with shiny stones…”

In early April 2022, as part of celebrating National Poetry Month, in conjunction with The Learning Network the NYT Magazine (left) invited teenagers to read Danusha's Small Kindnesses, then asked: what small kindnesses do you appreciate? Over 1,300 young people around the world responded in the spirit of the original piece, “detailing sweet, fleeting gestures their fellow humans have offered them”. 

The article is at 

Danusha reworked a big selection as a unique collaborative poem: All of them point toward something so important: The smallest things we do just might matter a great deal. I am moved by the realization that simply speaking a name, giving a wave, or offering a space in traffic could change someone’s whole day. Or more. I am grateful to these young poets for opening spaces of possibility for all of us. Thank you for showing us ways we might lighten the load for someone else, and for showing us how to notice the goodness already all around us every day”.

Danusha is at - with details on her books of poetry. She's also a lively presence on Facebook ( and X/Twitter (@DanushaLameris).


The Learning Network is at Home - The Learning Network (

Handfuls has the same basic idea. But instead of hundreds of examples of small kindnesses being eventually crafted into a long poem, it suggests fewer, more manageable, examples made into a simple display - maybe by using whatever's to hand by whoever wants to have a go at creating a Poetree. 


This simply means printing out a couple of dozen examples on card, slicing them up, and sticking them to any suitable base you can find - cardboard box, broom handle, door, music stand, noticeboard. And on- screen or read out loud is fine, of course.


NB Facebook has quite a few fine readings, including this with 130000+ Likes by Helena Bonham Carter, arranged by Waterstones - with Small Kindnesses being one of a splendid collection of 365 Poems for Life by Allie Esiri

Click on the picture or this link

Video | Facebook

Maybe good for sharing
with a class or group?
Or emulating?

No one is forcing that person to hold open that door, they just are. And they’re doing it for me.      Walking to the bus on a gloomy day, someone compliments me and emboldens me with the flame to take on the day.  Here’s to the kid who takes everyone’s soccer bags and stuffs them under the bleachers when it starts to rain so they don’t get wet. Bless you.   To the little conversations between dog walkers, the unspoken words: “Hello! You can pet my dog if you like. They’re very friendly. We can trust each other.”   To the person who stood up for me in first grade. To the person who tipped extra on that lemonade.        To the driver of the purple Toyota sedan who waved our car at the stop sign to go before them, and we waved back to say thank you.     To the stranger who said the color purple looks good on me.   The friendly neighbor who always waves, rejoices when they manage to etch a grin onto your face.      To the shopper who gave me their shopping cart outside the grocery store, so I saved a quarter.       
  How to create a Handful - and DIY Poetree  
Along these lines… but you do whatever suits

Handfuls as PDF
make for an for easy read on-screen whether laptop, tablet or phone

For an open display
of a handful of small kindnesses, you might simply print then out (with the first few words in bold), cut them into strips and pin or paste them on to a notice board, box or anything else that's handy or comes to mind as a Poetree collage.
NB Double--sided self-adhesive tape or stickers are a very helpful!

60-year old tennis racquet
repurposed as a way of
displaying a handful of
small kindnesses.
(The strings are still taut,btw.)

Poetree using a box as the trunk

Smallish numbers make sense - to collect a manageable 20-40 or so examples.  So a school Year - or Staff & Governors list - would probably be about right. And their examples can always be combined into a larger all-school Handful. NB Handfuls may possibly work best with secondary level schools, though Years 5-6 in primaries may surprise.


The same applies with other small groups of 20-30, such as friends, clubs, families, offices, teams.  

Ideally, it needs a kind and imaginative person to volunteer to initiate or co-ordinate things - and tell people about the idea. This might be a student or teacher or assistant. This webpage and the briefing document (right) should help. Then...


1. Invite people to read Danusha’s poem below or on the briefing document.
2. Ask them to watch out for and note a similar sorts of small kindnesses offered to them or someone else.
Give them a while to keep their eyes open for examples.Some may come back with armfuls, some with just one small kindness observed - though you may want to set a number: say five small kindnesses seen.

3.Compile the responses into a document – maybe a PDF to browse on-line, display, or read out. Give it a title: "A Handful of Small Kindnesses Gathered By…" And perhaps include the first or full names of contributors, depending on what they're happy with. And how about them selecting and talking about a favourite in the list. Oh, and someone may make the group's example into a poem - or Poetree!


4.Share the Handful inside and out so others can enjoy – and learn from - the examples.  NB Your local media may well welcome your story - and the examples would make good radio or podcast content, of course.

And afterwards? You might tell Danusha what you’ve done (and better still, kindly buy her books!) She's at

And if you send your Handful or any weblink to, they might form a cheerful Libraryful.

Many thanks and well done!


Hugh Gibbons







And now for that poem.


Briefing as a PDF
downloadable here

or click the pic

Notice board Poetree


Small Kindnesses by Danusha Lameris


Danusha & husband Armando
as in
"I like your hat"

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

Bonfire Opera: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)

More on this and other work at

Seen on Twitter/X @DanushaLameris 
in March 2024
"Soooooo—-excited to say I have a new book alert! Out in September 2024 and available for pre-order."




Many thanks to Clip Arts
who kindly made this graphic available

  To the little conversations between dog walkers, the unspoken words: “Hello! You can pet my dog if you like. They’re very friendly. We can trust each other.”   To the person who stood up for me in first grade. To the person who tipped extra on that lemonade.        To the driver of the purple Toyota sedan who waved our car at the stop sign to go before them, and we waved back to say thank you.     To the stranger who said the color purple looks good on me.   The friendly neighbor who always waves, rejoices when they manage to etch a grin onto your face.      To the shopper who gave me their shopping cart outside the grocery store, so I saved a quarter.      To the cashier who checked the bottoms of my strawberry packages to ensure I wasn’t getting any rotten ones.      To my friend who hums lightly while hugging me. Her raspy voice cracks but she keeps singing. She doesn’t ask me questions, she doesn’t talk. She just sits there quietly humming.     A small act of kindness is giving someone a high five, even if they didn’t do something awesome.      Paying for the person behind you can create a chain stronger than metal.      Someone out there cares about your well-being, Even if it’s just for a second, they care.   I find such grandeur, in milliseconds of joy.       Perhaps kindness works best when it goes both ways. Like when you reply “You too” after somebody says “Have a nice day”.   

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