Performing an act of kindness for someone you know and love is pretty easy. After all, most of us want to see the people we love the most be successful, and we’re happy to help them if we can.

But performing an act of kindness for someone you don’t know at all can be even more powerful. Once you read these 19 stories from people who are sharing the one act of kindness from a stranger that changed their life, you’ll understand just how powerful it can really be.

It’s always important to remember that you never know what someone has or hasn’t experienced, or what they are going through.

Sometimes, the simplest act on your part can change everything for someone you will never meet again.

19. A sweetheart.

My mom, sister, and I were at a new restaurant one day. Our waiter was this twenty-something young man who was very kind and polite. As we were pulling out of our parking spot, I saw him step out of the restaurant, glance around the lot, and come sprinting towards us.

Turns out my mom had forgotten her credit card when he’d taken the check and he took it upon himself to chase us down in his work uniform and return it during probably the busiest hour. He was such a sweetheart.

18. For her dad.

I was in the grocery store, and went a little nuts buying produce and a bunch of healthy but expensive stuff. Didn’t check my account before I checked out and didn’t have near enough cash to cover it.

As I was telling the clerk to cancel it, and why, the lady behind me in line said she’d pay for it. I was floored – it was $120 worth of food. It wasn’t like she was paying for a gallon of milk. I said no so many times but she insisted.

She said it was the anniversary of her father’s death 20 years ago, and that paying for a stranger’s groceries was the kind of thing he would do. So when she said “please let me honor him this way” I gave in and let her pay.

I cried the whole way home, feeling like I had taken advantage of her, like I wasn’t worthy of the help.

I made sure to promise her I’d pay it forward in return. I have the date it happened set in my calendar, and every year I donate $120 to the local food bank in honor of Heidi’s dad.

17. The people make it work.

English here. Our friends and I were sort of lost in Battery Park looking for the nearest bar on my primitive Symbian mobile phone’s map app. Guy in a business suit walks past us.

Sort of sinks his shoulders and returns to us to ask what we’re looking for as we’re clearly lost. Points us to a great bar we then spent several hours at before getting a cab back to our hotel. He could have just kept walking but made our day.

I’ve been to NY 8 times now and still dislike it (British country boy) but the people we’ve met there have made up for it tenfold.

16. A free taxi.

I went out with some friends and we smoked a cigar. Then we went to a burger place my friend was working at and he gave us all free burgers. So we are eating and then we did some fire staffing (special rod which is lit on fire and then played with it like spinning.)

And I went back home cause I live pretty far away and I remember I had my last bus at 12:40 but showed up and no bus. I asked someone for a call because my battery was out and he asked for what reason and I told him I’m stuck and he looked at the phone and said “no need, get a taxi”

I told him I don’t any money and he said so casually “money? I am paying!” And I was so baffled cause I never had an experience like this one . An experience I certainly will remember forever

15. They only met twice.

When I was at school, I helped a girl out when she was having a meltdown in the bathroom. A few weeks later she pretended to be my friend who had been waiting to meet me, when I was being followed home by two guys.

We never saw each other outside of those two occasions but I still think about her and hope she’s doing ok somewhere out there.

14. A perspective shift.

After my Dad passed away my depression kicked into over drive. I went to the Doctor and got a prescription for anti depressants. While I was picking up my prescription I started crying.

When I apologized to the pharmacist for crying like a child the pharmacist said, ” You don’t have to apologize. You recognize you have a problem and you are trying to fix it. That is a brave thing.”

It changed my perspective on treating my mental illness.

13. Policy just doesn’t matter.

I had just lost my insurance and my epilepsy medication was over $400.

The pharmacist got me some coupons that cut the price in half. She didn’t have to, and it was against company policy (I now work in a pharmacy in the chain) but she did it anyway. Very nice lady

12. Stepping in when it really counts.

I was paying for groceries at a Trader Joe’s and the cashier (F, 60+) asks me what I’m doing this weekend. I tell her I’m actually graduating with my Master’s degree on Saturday. Her eyes light up, beaming smile, and tells me congratulations and to wait right there.

She comes back a minute or two later with a small bouquet of roses and tells me to celebrate my accomplishment.

Particularly meaningful since my parents could not make the ceremony. I thanked her, gave her a smile and a hug, and never saw her again.

11. Using his sway.

I missed my train to go home for Christmas from uni due to a crash near the station. I was completely broke and knew I wouldn’t be able to afford another ticket.

Life just got on top of me knowing I’d have to spend Christmas alone in my shitty student house and not being about to see my grandad who was in rapidly declining health.

I was bawling my eyes out on the platform when a janitor(?) appeared out of a hidden stock room under a stairwell and brought me some tissues.

He found out why I was so upset and said leave it to me. Took me to the customer service desk and got them to reissue me a ticket for the next train home. I was so thankful I started bawling again and he went on his way.

Then just before I was about to get my train he found me on the platform and gave me some snacks and a can of coke and it’s just the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for it.

10. Gabe is the best guy.

I had a coworker about ten years ago. We became work friends but he was moving to another state. So on his last day, he brought and gave me an iPod nano (back when they were fairly new) completely filled with different music that we had talked about or listened to together.

No one had ever done something that thoughtful for me before. I could have cried.

If you’re out there Gabe, that’s something that I will always remember.

9. Helping out a family who needs it.

After the recessions and our houses foreclosure, my family and I were homeless during the summer between my fourth and fifth grade in school. When school started back up, I went to live with some family friends who clothed, fed and loved me as one of their own.

Not only that, a few weeks before moving in with them, one of my mom’s coworkers heard about our homelessness and secretly organized a fundraiser for my parents out of the state park they were living in.

Along with about $1,000, they got me a book bag filled to the brim with all the school supplies I would need for the year. Still brings me to tears thinking about.

I just graduated high school this May, and I’ll never forget it.

8. Someone who really cares.

I worked in bridal for 6 years. Which means I was berated by hormonal bridezillas nearly 5 days a week for 6 years.

After one particularly awful day at work I decided to get Chipotle for dinner. I was defeated and exhausted. The girl making my burrito bowl GENUINELY asked me how I was doing and I nearly lost it.

She was the only person to be kind to me all day. I held back tears during my entire transaction. That was about 3 years ago and I think about her kindness often.

Please be kind to retail and food workers.

7. His good deed for the day.

Moved from a city to the country. I bought a large metal wine rack at a yardsale without thinking of how I would get it home. As I stood outside my car measuring, knowing damn well it wouldn’t fit, an older man came up to me.

He asked if I needed help getting it home and offered to follow me in his truck. I thought, ok… I’m getting robbed, but it was only 40 dollars and I couldn’t get it home anyways. The older man followed me home and helped me bring it into the house.

We talked for 5 minutes or so and as he was about to leave I asked him “I just have to ask, what made you do this today?”

The man extended his hand to shake mine and said “Just doing my good deed for the day”. I was floored. I’m never moving back to the city and I see this sort of kindness all the time where I am.

6. Kids are magic.

When I was little I was waiting for my aunt in a supermarket. Whenever someone exited the supermarket the doors were automatic so every time someone left I stood by the doors and pretended to magically open the doors.

One person said “thank you”

5. A small moment with a big impact.

Last year my son and I went to Lowe’s to buy his grandpa a weed eater and a certain attachment that goes with it. Grandpa is a little older and slower than he used to be, but he does a lot for us, so we wanted to spend a little money to help make his life a little easier.

As we get there, there’s only ONE of the attachments left that we wanted. Well, there was a guy there getting it down for another customer. My son looked devastated.

He knew how much his Grandpa had been wanting this stuff and we were going to surprise him with it … my son looked at me and quietly said, “That’s the last one. What are we going to do for Pa now?”

Well, the guy overheard and saw the look on my son’s face, so he casually handed it to me and said, “I think Pa needs this more than I do. I’ll just get an IOU from the store.”

It was such a small moment for this guy, but it’s one of those things that you witness that will literally help shape my son and his view of the world.

After that the saying, “It takes a village,” didn’t mean what I thought it meant every time I’d heard it before. Instead, it just made me realize that society, as a whole, is impacting all these young people in so many ways. And most of them don’t even know it.

4. Being heard changes everything.

I think I’ve told this story before but years ago I had the norovirus and was so sick I thought I was going to die. My dad took me to urgent care and the first doctor that saw me acted like I was being dramatic and gave me a pill to take.

I couldn’t even keep a sip of water down to take the freaking pill. Went back and insisted on seeing a different doctor. In walks this tiny Muslim woman and the first thing she does is take my face in her hands and say “oh you poor thing.”

I immediately started to cry. She gave me some shot in the hip and suppositories and I immediately started feeling better. I will never forget her kindness.

3. A powerful moment.

When I was a lad, about 14 or 15 I was rushing home to make my curfew. My bike wheel slipped sideways and i crashed my bike quite badly and messed myself up a bit. My wedding tackle got the full crossbar treatment, I gashed my elbow and took a blow to the head – these were the days before helmets.

A random couple picked me up and collected up my bike, went to a phone box and called a taxi for me. Then paid for the taxi to take me the remaining five miles or so home.

My parents went from ‘what times do you call this’ to ‘you’re going to hospital’ in a heartbeat.

Turns out my injuries weren’t too bad, but without random strangers, I’ve no idea how long I’d have been staying at the side of the road before I started the walk home.

Thank you, random strangers.

2. An easy compliment.

My first semester in college was horrible. I was (and still am) in a deep depression. One day I was walking home from school and a guy running by said “I like your shirt.” It was that simple.

I didn’t know him, and I didn’t care at that moment. It made me feel happy because I got a genuine compliment. When I get compliments from friends or family, I often feel like they are giving me them because they are obligated to.

This guy didn’t have to, so it felt real.

1. Changing everything with a word.

I was bullied at school, quite relentlessly.

Anyway, there was a “cool kid” called Kane. He was like the captain of the football team kind of guy.

One day, he saw, he stepped in, he said stop, and that 1 word changed my school life so much.

Aren’t these stories amazing? It’s so cool to read about all the ways that strangers have helped out other strangers for no reason other than it’s just what they felt like doing.

It really goes to show you never know how your actions can impact someone else.

Which story is your favorite? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments!