A monthly subscription for kindness

Linden Hills resident builds a business around acts of kindness

Diana Neidecker, creator of the Be Nice Box Credit: Submitted image

If a stranger buys you a cup of coffee, it might be Diana Neidecker. She’s a local blogger on a mission to complete 365 acts of kindness this year, and she just turned her blog into a business.

Neidecker’s Be Nice Box is a monthly subscription-based package that’s caught attention from 19 states in two months.

“Every box has a list of 15 acts of kindness, regardless of where you live, how much money you have or how much time you have,” Neidecker said. “And there’s a gift for yourself.”

December’s box, for example, included a “cold weather kit” to hand out to someone in need, candy canes to place on windshields, and fair-trade chocolates to share. January’s box included organic popcorn recipes (in honor of National Popcorn Day Jan. 19) and hand-drawn postcards by a local artist. A dollar of the proceeds from each box, which costs about $12, goes to charity. The December box donated to the Himalayan Cataract Project.

“It’s really important for us to give back and create small ripples of change,” said Neidecker, who left a 13-year career in education to launch the venture.

The business grew out of Neidecker’s vegan lifestyle blog and a single post she wrote after the Boston bombings. She decided to undertake 26.2 acts of kindness to honor those affected, and the page netted thousands of views.

“People always wait until something awful happens,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to create a blog dedicated only to good deeds.'”

The philosophy wasn’t new to her.

“I’ve grown up with people who will give you the shirt off their back,” she said. “If someone was stuck, they would always help push the car out.”

The new blog, “A Year of Minnesota Nice” (mnnice365.blogspot.com) took the philosophy to new heights. She sent postcards with a snapshot of her dog to kids suffering from cancer. She loaded a laundromat’s washer and dryer with quarters. She reported a fire to 911, called her grandma, ran a 5K for charity, thanked a driver for giving her space on her bike, and bought breakfast for a stranger.

Her favorite good deed was a “kindness flash mob” on Nicollet Mall where 10 volunteers gave out 60 bunches of flowers to passersby.

“It was a magical thing,” she said.

Neidecker wants people to know that kindness doesn’t have to take time or money — while waiting for the bus, she once helped a woman on crutches carry her coffee to the car.

“I think a lot of people feel like they don’t have the time, or think ‘I’m not Bill Gates,” she said. “It’s helping a grandma across the street. If a kid is having a tantrum, you could smile at the parent. You could take a shopping cart back to the corral. … It just takes a minute.”

For more information, visit http://www.benicebox.com/.