Without a doubt, it was contagious. In less than 30 days, the phenomenon had affected countless numbers, traveled from coast to coast -- even internationally -- and spread smiles ear to ear.
The random acts of kindness had multiplied at an astonishing rate, all because of a birthday invitation from Kristi Black to her Facebook friends one year.
"It's one thing to do it yourself," said the northern Virginia woman as she reminisced about her choice to celebrate her birthday milestone with random presents to others, "but then to get all your friends involved ... " her voice trailing.
Because of their busy lives, she was hesitant about including them in her unique month-long birthday celebration that year. Even so, she decided to give it a try and set up the Facebook Random Acts of Kindness page, complete with a creative invitation to join her in the project. Friends could respond with the "going" reply -- and then it was "party on!"
"A group of people right away said they were going to do it," Kristi said as she recalled her idea to give gifts to strangers during her birthday month. "It started slow, then one of my friends shared with her friend and then another shared," the young woman's words brimming with excitement. "That's when it took off, friends of friends."
Word spread to at least 16 states, stretching north to south, from Maine to Georgia, and east to west, from Florida to Washington and Hawaii. But the random acts of kindness didn't stop on our country's shores. From as far away as Peru to Italy, Brazil to New Zealand and St. Crois, the birthday celebration rocked with kind deeds.
Free lattes surprised unsuspecting drivers in the Starbucks drive-thru; quarters filled gumball machines and overdue parking meters; smiley-face cookies brightened a dreary day for cancer patients.
The list of thoughtful gestures is long; some as simple as helping an elderly woman find her car in a store parking lot, another as complex as aiding women trapped in human-trafficking.
For Kristi, her random acts of kindness she performs regularly around town have seemed at times to be divine direction.
"I often ask in a little prayer, 'What am I going to do with these cookies ... or if someone needs this, please lead me,' " the mother of four said about her routine prior to setting off on busy days. "Then I'd miss my turn and see where to give."