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"Once you start looking, there are opportunities everywhere": Yard sale funds random acts of kindness

Yard sale funds woman's random acts of kindness
Annual yard sale funds woman's random acts of kindness 02:24

Arlington, Virginia — Susan Thompson-Gaines is like a fairy godmother who magically appeared in Marjorie Gonzales' life to help her conjure up a dress for the ball. 

"Just came out of nowhere," said Gonzales, who was in need of a homecoming dress. 

Marjorie Gonzales tries on homecoming dresses while shopping with Susan Thompson-Gaines.  CBS News

Like all fairy godmothers, Thompson-Gaines' wish-granting process began with rags — racks of old clothes mixed with a dash of footwear, a pinch of gold and a dollop of just about everything else. Each part of the potion was donated by Thompson-Gaines' neighbors. 

"So many people helped. It's everyone in the community now. Every inch of our space was covered in treasures," Thompson-Gaines said. Then all of it sold in a giant yard sale she holds each year. 

Thompson-Gaines uses every penny of her profits — more than $12,000 this year — to fund random acts of kindness throughout her community.  She documents it all on a blog called "Kindness Activist." In the past she has bought donuts for nurses, left flowers at veterans' graves, delivered presents for Santa and hosted a beach party for dementia patients.

Hardly a day goes by that Thompson-Gaines doesn't do something because she firmly believes that kindness begets kindness.

"Once you start looking, there are opportunities everywhere," she said. 

That's how Thompson-Gaines ended up homecoming dress shopping with Gonzales, who couldn't afford a dress for the high school dance. Thompson-Gaines also let her pick out shoes and jewelry. 

"It has made me, overall, a more happy person," Thompson-Gaines said. 

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