AS FAR as Christmas presents go, they don't come much bigger than this.
Rather than lavish gifts on her two young sons, a West Tamworth single mum has instead shown them the power of random acts of kindness.
Over 24 inspiring days leading up to Christmas, Cindy McCluand set her boys a “giving task” each day to teach them the true spirit of the season.
The “gifts” ranged from placing 50-cent pieces on parking meters to giving away their unused toys and clothes to charity.
So moved were they by the experience, the boys – who are both autistic – decided to ask for only one gift each from Santa for Christmas.
“This is just something I thought was important to do for the kids,” Ms McCluand said.
“By the end of it, they really understood the message that giving is far better than receiving.”
She said the effect on the recipient was equally as powerful.
“We would just turn up to places and explain we were doing random acts of Christmas kindness,” Ms McCluand said. “People responded very positively – they couldn't believe it. Some were even a bit suspicious.
“When we were handing out flowers at Centrepoint, people were asking us how much money we wanted and asking what organisation we were from.”
Nicholas, 10, said it had changed the way he thought about Christmas.
“It made me feel really good about myself knowing I was helping people that needed it,” he said.
The gesture even spawned a Facebook page – Random Acts Of Christmas Kindness.
* Life lesson the greatest gift: editorial.
The McCluands random acts of kindness:
Day 1: Walked along Scott Rd and picked up rubbish
Day 2: Placed $10 gift cards in random library books
Day 3: Paid for the order behind at Macca’s drive-thru
Day 4: Gave a box of chocolates to a teacher
Day 5: Took homemade fudge to police to say thank you
Day 6: Made a care pack for a sick relative
Day 7: Spent time with family from out of town
Day 8: Let a child in a wheelchair go before them at canteen
Day 9: Visited ambulance station and delivered homemade fudge
Day 10: Delivered homemade fudge to firefighters
Day 11: Made gift packs and delivered them to kids in
Day 12: Moved bins from in front of a business driveway
Day 13: Treated mum to a foot massage and painted nails
Day 14: Donated fudge to a charity event and attended it
Day 15: Gave away clothes to a local charity
Day 16: Made Christmas cards and notes of appreciation for teachers
Day 17: Donated toys to Ronald McDonald House
Day 18: Delivered Christmas cards to families and friends
Day 19: Wrote and delivered Christmas cards to nursing home residents
Day 20: Delivered homemade fudge to neighbours
Day 21: Made a concerted effort to speak courteously to everyone
Day 22: Donated own toys to Vinnies
Day 23: Placed 50-cent pieces on parking meters to help anonymous drivers
Day 24: Gave yellow roses to strangers in shopping centre