Restoring My Faith In Humanity

Tim Hortons

I’m not sure, in my lifetime, that I have felt as emotionally drained as I do right now. Between family illnesses, lack of sleep and what happened in Connecticut last week, I haven’t been able to find a lot of room for happy thoughts. Just as I began to sink into hibernation, I received an email from the PR department at Tim Hortons.

The last thing I was looking for was to start working on a new project. My plate was already pretty full and I have to keep reminding myself that blogging is a hobby and not my real job. Before I opened the email, I had already located my standard, copy and paste, “Thanks but I can’t accept any new projects at this time” response. Luckily, I read the email because what they were proposing was the exact thing I needed at that very moment.

They were offering to send me 50 – $5 gift cards for their Random Cups of Kindness promotion, that I was allowed to hand out to whoever I saw fit. I accepted immediately and waited with anticipation for the cards to arrive. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to distribute the cards and as it turns out, the experience was a lot more uplifting than I could have imagined.

I began my adventure by leaving two cards at the Tim Hortons drive-thru, for the next two cars in line. The person at the window looked at me like I was nuts but by the end of the week; they were expecting me and knew the drill. I never saw any of the recipients of the gift cards but I was encouraged by how happy it made the employees inside the store. I was determined to not let my pneumonia slow down my mission and soldiered on. I surprised parents and teachers at my son’s school. I visited a couple stores that I constantly get excellent customer service from and surprised them with special gifts. I handed them out to people who looked like they hadn’t smiled in a long time and I even gave one to Santa Claus at the mall, because, well, Santa needs love too!

Just watching the smiles on people’s faces as I handed them the cards would have been enough for me to enjoy the experience, but hearing comments like “I really needed this” and “You really have made my day”, pushed the experience over the top. Oddly enough, my favourite part of the campaign came when my daughter fell and cut her mouth, which sent us to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Don’t worry, she is fine and didn’t require any stitches, but it gave me the chance to hand out gift cards to parents of sick kids and also to some of the wonderful staff at CHEO. This was the point where I really started getting emotional about what I had been fortunate enough to be a part of.

It might sound silly and exaggerated, and I’ll never be able to accurately capture my feelings in words but this experience has really changed me. It’s changed the way I interpret what is important in my life versus what is unnecessary extras. Giving is important. Making people smile is important. Helping others is important and family is the most important of them all. Money and feuds and impatience and anger are not important, they are just distractions from what we should really be focusing on.

I realize that Tim Hortons’ “Random Cups of Kindness” was a marketing campaign designed to create a buzz for the brand, but whether they realized it or not, they have touched some people’s lives at a time when it was most important to do so. There was no compensation for this campaign, nor was any expected. I wasn’t required to write, tweet, speak or do anything else but hand out the cards and bring smiles to people’s faces, which I gladly did.

I want to say Thank You to Tim Hortons for including me in this amazing promotion and for restoring my faith in the good things that people are capable of doing for each other. They were only $5 gift cards but I am a different person for having done it. If more big companies did what you have just done, the world would be a better place, even if only a little bit better.

Happy Holidays Everyone! I am wishing nothing but the best for all of you in the New Year!


19 replies
  1. The Urban Daddy
    The Urban Daddy says:

    I somehow totally missed this promotion but it is totally something I could see myself doing, and have done at holiday time. It’s nice to spread a little cheer here and there and I have always felt that since I’m in a “have” position it’s my duty to help the “have-nots”. Plus it’s important for the kids to see this as well so they will help others without hesitation.

    I normally do not give change to homeless here in Toronto because in my areas I know some of them and that they just want the money for alcohol, but I find when I’m with my kids, I not only give, but I usually strike up a conversation – offer to buy them food, get them a meal or a warm drink so my kids will understand these are humans beings as well.

    I love the fact you participated in this and that you posted about it.

    One question: Was anyone ungrateful? Did anyone refuse?

    All the best to you and your family this holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.,


    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Great question Warren. I actually thought there were be some resistance to it, as people aren’t used to this type of thing. Most of the people expressed more of a shocked disbelief before smiling and saying thank you. I left a bunch at the drive thru window as well, so I didn’t get to see the reaction of the recipient. Overall it was a great experience and I hope more companies can get over the fact that they didn’t come up with the idea and follow suit.

  2. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    Good for you! In a time where we need all the ‘feel good’ we can get, so many do not realize what the giving part does for us.

    My children and I often will leave an extra ten at the drive through window for the next few people, or buy one of the many homeless folks we see a sub and some milk. Its the compassion that we show to others, that is the pay it forward for me and my children. I don’t need much, nor do my kids. But teaching them the value of helping others, without first thinking of ourselves.. is worth so much more!

    Good for you for participating in a wonderful campaign! Like you said.. it was not about the brand, but about the giving..

  3. Erin
    Erin says:

    Thanks for a great post.

    I was in line at Tim’s last week and they were having trouble with their debit. The woman in front of me didn’t have any cash and was very flustered. I told her to go ahead and leave and I would take care of her order. She was so greatful and so were the staff. Made me happy all day!

    I must remember to do little acts of kindness more!!

  4. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Chris, what an uplifting post. Your gratitude as well as your insight into all that was involved is wonderful.

    Re Tims…. I reposted and replied to one of the amazing “Pay It Forward” twitter posts. As a thank-you they send me $5.00 gift card. I, in turn gave it to a single mom with 2 kids, who looked like she could use a break!… Again a win-win situation.

    Thanks for posting and Happy New Year!

    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      Hi Patricia, thank you for the kind words! I truly enjoyed the experience and have been practicing my giving skills ever since. It’s great that you were able to pay it forward to someone who needed the lift more than you did!

  5. Claire
    Claire says:

    I was one of the very fortunate recipients of Chris’ Random Cup of Kindness cards! I can’t tell you how touched I was, and how appreciated I felt to be considered valuable enough to receive one. I work in a local grocery store, and for as many smiles I give, I receive just about as many frowns, rushed responses and/or barely a glance up from the iPhone. There are many days that I feel invisible. Chris made me feel appreciated that day, and it was exactly what I needed to lift my spirit and throw me head-on into Christmas and the true meaning of the holiday. Thank you, Chris, I aprreciate you too~ and thank you for your kindness! Claire

    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Claire. There’s a reason I went out of my way to come into the store to give you that card and you have displayed that reason with your comments here. I really appreciate how kind you are to myself and my family and it’s what keeps me coming back time and again. I hope you have a wonderful New Year and we’ll see you at the store!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] day I spent with my daughter in the waiting room at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, handing out Tim Hortons gift cards to staff and other worried parents, is something that I will be forever grateful […]

  2. […] I try to make a difference in my community and beyond by giving back to those who are not as fortunate as I am. I have my problems too, we all do, but it’s not hard […]

  3. […] I try to make a difference in my community and beyond by giving back to those who are not as fortunate as I am. I have my problems too, we all do, but it’s not hard […]

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