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.
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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