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All Smiles At Karma Kitchen

I heard about it through a KindSpring 21-day challenge. My frat at college told us about it. I've been here five times before. I was sick this morning, but I didn't want to miss KK. I originally came here to research about it, several years ago. I'm coming from Stanford today. I just moved from India and I had heard about it there. My girlfriend told me about it.

Just the convening of such diverse Karma Kitchen volunteers is inspiring. For the next six hours, dozen of us would come together as a team, and turn a routine dining experience into one of generosity -- for over 100 guests.

It fills you in a way that very few things can.

Guests are all smiles, simply in seeing a full-house where everyone is engaged in an experiment in trust and generosity. Quite organically, it changes the nature of the conversations too. On one side, two college students starting up a project to "raise empathy" by encouraging people to have conversations with the homeless. On another side, a table of four is learning about the journey of their server -- who biked all the way from Massachusetts to California, while learning about the kindness of strangers along the way. On another table of two, that have waited 40 minutes to get seated, a couple engages with the theme-of-the-day: intention. When the whole restaurant converged to sing happy-birthday for one of the guests, a mother-son waiting outside decided to do their own act of kindness -- they wrote a random letter of appreciation as the six-year-old approached the birthday girl: "You don't know me, but this is my wish for your birthday." Volunteers themselves could feel the buzz, as they got hugs and smiles, and even one thank-you letter! In small ways, acts of kindness were everywhere. Bradley brought some glasses on which kids could write their intention-of-the-day in chalk -- and then got to keep the glasses as a keepsake! A guest brought in flowers for volunteers, which got distributed into single flowers that were gifted to random guests; in response to the inevitable to the thank-you, volunteer responded: "Well, technically, this isn't from us. It's from someone who came before you, and just wanted to make a stranger smile. Tag you're it. Keep the ripple going, and pay it forward."

Everyone tries to go over the top, with love. And it creates the kind of magic that can be seen in these smiles, even after a full day of work:

--Nipun on Jan 26, 2015

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