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#20acts: A hash tag that is making a difference

December 23, 2012 - Art Smith

A little more than a week ago a gunman did the unspeakable at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The press quickly descended on the town to let the world know about the events that took the lives of 26 people at the school.

Among those covering the story was Ann Curry, a NBC News national and international correspondent, and former co-anchor of "The Today Show."

Curry is a very active social networker, frequently posting to both Facebook and Twitter. On Twitter she has more than a million followers. On Facebook more than 620,000 follow her page.

She posted a simple request on both sites shortly after the shootings that people could honor those that died by performing random acts of kindness. Her first post urged people to perform 20 acts to remember the children who died. She later changed it to 26 to include the teachers and administrators who died at the school.

The movement has gained a lot of traction in the last few days with people performing acts of kindness for people that are in many cases total strangers. The phrases #20acts and #26acts being used to share acts performed by and to people across the globe.

Curry's original tweet on Dec. 16 was simple.

Ann Curry @AnnCurry
Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT #20Acts

Many people did retweet it (RT) and thousands decided to make something good from the evil.

A search on Twitter gives examples of what some people are doing, they include things like:

• My brother went outside in the rain 2 help a man in a wheelchair w/ groceries after a store manager wouldn't help. #proud

• Paid for an elderly couple's groceries. Woman cried. Love this #26Acts

• Out to dinner tonight with the family, saw an elderly women eating alone. My 10 year old asked the waitress for her bill. Act#2

• Gave barista $26 to buy ppl's coffee this morning until it runs out. She asked my name I said #26acts

• Proudly walked a blind man home with his bags of groceries. #26acts #20acts Today was for Noah.

• Finally did what I've been talking about forever and took the first steps to become a foster parent #26acts #20Acts

• Together with a group of girlfriends @ church purchased a $100 gift card for a woman struggling to feed her family #20acts

Literally thousands of acts are being performed in the movement that is now worldwide. Some are small, others huge. Many recipients are taking photos of things left on their windshields, the sender numbers many acts; some are in honor of particular people that lost their lives.

The gun debate will go on for months and will be likely get nasty before a resolution is reached. It will not, in most cases, be something that citizens will have much of a voice in.

The random act movement is something that everyone can take part in and make immediate good from something so horribly evil.


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