With so much volatility and hostility in the world, especially in our country, Americans and even neighbors divided one against the other over pointless issues, it’s easy to lose focus on what it means to be kind and just how powerful that is. In our feature this week on pages 8 and 9, it’s easy to see how the charitable spirit can spread and change lives, and how one kind deed can help pave the way for others to be kind, too.

When it comes to kind gestures, I feel especially privileged. In 2010, at age 30, I was diagnosed with cancer. As a single full-time working mother, it was a huge blow, from fear of my own body to worry over whether or not my doctors would be able to get control over it. Further, financially, it wasn’t anything I was prepared for. Even though insurance would cover much of the treatment costs, there were still copays and other expenses that would leave me in a bind. But there is something to the kindness of strangers that not only proves that none of us is really alone, especially in the darkest of hours, but that generosity and consideration have a contagious effect.

For instance, my mother’s colleague broke some rules at her workplace and sent an email out about the fact that I would lose my hair and that she was collecting money so that I could turn my soon-to-be-cut hair into a wig. Her organization prohibited such personal email blasts. But that produced another significant number of donations, including one woman who my mother had never met. Upon receiving the email, this woman who had just recently lost her mother to cancer and was still grieving over the loss and that she did not spend more time with her gave my mom a check. The amount: $2,500. Though I donated my hair to another charity, I did not forget the outpouring of generosity.

Within that same period of time, I had friends and family members, even strangers from my son’s school and my mother’s congregation at church, doing my grocery shopping, making food, running errands, donating even more money, etc. Also, I was approved for funding to cover certain medical expenses and prescription drugs through a national nonprofit. All of this concern and care, all of the work that so many did to give to others so that those others could live comfortably during tough times was overwhelming. To be the recipient of the kindness of strangers led to my involvement in various nonprofits and working with others. While I will refrain from the details, the important thing to focus on is that for many people, kindness resonates more than anger, selfishness, every man for himself. It uplifts and connects people to each other and to their humanity. It produces a domino effect that no other act can. It’s something we need more of rather than letting anger and hate divide us. The battle of wills produces nothing but negative effects.

With this holiday season and the New Year upon us, I have hope that love and kindness can and will be a more effective way to treat each other and, in turn, effect more change for good and the things we desire for our lives than will anger, vengeance, stubbornness, etc. It’s time to let others come first.

Note: My doctor said last March I was cured of cancer.