Day 3: Manning, South Carolina

In 2014 my family took an 18-day trip to 20 states (in the shape of a heart across America). During this trip, we did 1,000 acts of kindness. And then, I wrote an ebook about it. Which you can find here.

If you are just joining along, I’ve been reblogging some of my old blog posts from a BIG adventure my family took back in 2014. 20 states in 18 days. 1000 acts of kindness. Thanks for joinging along! 

I remember dreaming that my family would be like “The Wild Thornberrys.” Traveling in the jungles, living in an RV, and making documentaries. Doing something EPIC and amazing. 

Or I remember reading about this family that traveled full time living on a boat with each other. I read about them in a magazine when my second son was just a toddler and fell in love with the idea. I remember wanting to go to school for documentary-making, and the academic advisor ended up talking me into pursuing a photography degree instead (which I never finished…)

And I guess that’s why I’m reliving this trip again. There is still a part of me that wishes she could load up our lives in some sort of vehicle and go. And maybe someday it will happen. But today, I have animals and responsibilities. And I have other things I would have to figure out as well. But it’s nice to dream. And it’s nice to remember a time when I did bring my family on an epic adventure with purpose… even if it was for a little while.

This particular day, that I’m about to share a blog from, was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I LOVE a good cheesy roadside attraction, and we stumbled upon one of the cheesiest I’ve ever seen, “South of the Border.” 

We didn’t get to enjoy the location, as it was closed due to snow. But it definitely captured a piece of my heart. I hope to someday go back and enjoy it with my family.

The acts of kindness that day were also super sweet (pun totally intended). Handing out hot chocolate on a cold dreary day and leaving quarters in gumball machines. I still leave quarters in gumball machines all the time in memory of my sweet son Elijah (#loveelijah). It is one of my favorite acts of kindness. 

Here is the blog entry I wrote on the second day of the trip:

Day 3: Manning, South Carolina

This morning we woke up in South Carolina. Yay!

Where we woke up to some pretty cold and nasty weather. Boo.

Some of our original plans were altered a bit, but I think we made the best out of it.

I ran to the local Walmart where I helped one guy pick out a good box of Swissmiss for his wife. (kind act #116)

After helping Mr. Swissmiss, I then proceeded to buy 15 boxes of hot cocoa to hand out in a local neighborhood to keep people warm on this cold and dreary day. (kind acts #’s 117- 131)

We put 12 boxes on doorsteps, handed 2 to people on their doorsteps, and gave one box to a sweet little lady walking home in the rain.

We then proceeded to the local Piggly Wiggly, where we placed quarters in 15 “gumball machines”, and a 1 “stamp machine” as well. (kind acts #’s 131- 147) 

While taking photos of the cards on the gumball machines, one of the cashiers actually had a manager called out on us. 

The manager came out and asked if I was taking inventory of the money I placed in the machines…

I just politely explained that we were on a trip of 20 states, in 20 days and over 1,000 acts of kindness.

His reply?

“Well you know, people are just going to take the money out of the machines.”

I just smiled, told him that it was okay, and then left.

I suppose I will continue to run into the doubtful, the skeptics, and those who just don’t get it. And that is okay.

Even if someone decides to forego the free gum and takes all the quarters out of the machines (which is really hard to do btw), they will be slightly more happy than they were the moment before. And that my friends, is the whole point to this.

After leaving the Piggly Wiggly, we decided to head out of South Carolina so that we would miss out on driving in the snow…. which we ended up hitting anyway.

Again, totally okay. BECAUSE, I got these amazing pictures at “South of the Border” in the snow.

I LOVE this kind of stuff.

South of the Border is this really zany tourist attraction that has been around since the 40’s. 

I will have to come back sometime, when everything is open.

After driving through the snow, we finally made it to our 4th state, North Carolina.

To add to our kind acts for the day I decided to write the good men and women who serve this beautiful country I am traveling through.

I wrote 45 thank you cards to US Soldiers and sealed them up to send to Operation Gratitude. (kind acts #148-192)

This is a kind act that I know will be appreciated 🙂

Okay, well time to work on a video from yesterday, and look at the weather.

Have a great night and stay warm!

Thanks always for reading 🙂


I may never know if any of my acts of kindness cause any actual change in the world… 

But I like to believe that even if the actual act didn’t… maybe this story will inspire others to want to be more kind.

We really don’t have any control over what happens next. All we can do is do the best where we are with what we have now. 

Thanks for reading!

Kelly Airhart

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