Like every parent, Ryan Garcia wants his daughter to grow up in
a world where she feels safe. And since Jan. 1, Garcia has been
finding a different way every day to help create that world so
9-month-old Isla can follow in his footsteps as she grows.
Garcia has taken time out of each day to give back to his
community, whether it's wearing the color orange to promote
leukemia awareness or buying lunch for a local firehouse. He keeps
track of each day's random act of kindness on a blog he
created, as well as a Twitter
feed and Facebook page.
"This is for my daughter, first and foremost," Garcia says. "I
want her to see how easy it is to give back to others. I have a
newborn, a life outside of work and a full-time job, but it's still
easy to do random acts of kindness."
Garcia says he has yet to miss a day of the campaign, though
admits it can be difficult to fit into his Monday through Friday
schedule. But after talking to Chicago parents he's met through his
campaign, he knows it's worth it.
"I've come into contact with a bunch of different parents
throughout the whole process who have given me tips and let me know
this is something important. It's encouragement to keep going. It's
something that my daughter will be able to look back on and be
proud of," Garcia says.
Along with messages of encouragement, he says he's received an
overwhelming response with suggestions for future random acts.
"That's the thing I love about this. I have my list, but I get
excited about doing things people are passionate about."
And not only have people shared their suggestions, but their own
stories of kindness as well.
"I've had Chicagoans reach out after they've seen me on the news
and say that's something they did, too," Garcia says. "They'll
think of the blog and go perform a random act of kindness."
The ripple effect he's seeing with his campaign is proof to him
that Isla is growing up in a generous world. Garcia was excited to
see that impact firsthand only two months into his 366 days.
On Feb. 14, Garcia handed out valentines at the corner of State
and Madison streets in downtown Chicago. After giving paper
valentines to a mother and her daughter, a man approached the three
of them asking for 83 cents towards a CTA day pass. Instead, the
pair handed him a five dollar bill.
"That's exactly what my goal is with this," Garcia says. "Pay it
Garcia also has had people contact him wanting to tag along on
"I haven't had to ask for help. My friends and family have
volunteered to donate time and money," he says.
Even strangers have offered to help. Garcia says he isn't sure
he's comfortable with monetary donations yet, but he appreciates
everyone getting involved. Earlier in the year, Garcia took a
soldier and his family to a Northwestern University basketball game
with tickets donated to 366 Days by the school.
But Garcia says his biggest support has come from his wife,
"She's a teacher, so she really helps with planning and
organizing," he says. "She's my support system."
The support and donations have been appreciated, but definitely
unexpected. When Garcia started the project, he vowed to donate a
dime to charity for each follower his blog, Twitter and Facebook
"I thought maybe it would be my friends and family, maybe I'd
have $500 worth of followers by the end of the year," he says. By
mid-May, he had collected 6,600 followers, adding up to $660 in
And all these positive reactions are impacting Garcia as he
adjusts to life as a father.
"It makes me more patient, a calmer parent. Any situation where
I would have gotten riled up, I think of my mission and it calms me
down," Garcia says.
Garcia says he is even considering continuing the project after
the year is over.
"I may not blog every day in the future, but I think I'll
continue," he says. "It's already impacting me-it's changed the way
I look at things and look at life."
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.
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