By Brian Troutmanbtroutman@abcnews4.com
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) - For Lowcountry native Kelly Amell, her 25th birthday will be unlike any other.
It's a trend that's sweeping the nation, and for Amell, jumping on the bandwagon seemed like a no-brainer. So, on Thanksgiving of 2011 she began to plan her birthday celebration - a celebration that would be more about giving than receiving.
Amell decided to perform 25 random acts of kindness as a way to make the quarter of a century mark memorable. She got the idea from a blog she was reading, a blog that is now one of hundreds if you search the Internet using the keywords birthday, random, acts and kindness.
Internet search engine results show the trend growing in popularity every day. For Amell, hearing the news is no surprise. She says it's the best birthday she has ever had.
"People who I've never met, absolute strangers, told me 'happy birthday, God bless you,'" Amell said. "So many people have now told me they are going to do it for their next birthday."
Over the course of three days, with the help of her family, fianc and her closest friends, Amell did everything from donating crayons to the pediatric wing of a hospital to donating dog food to an animal shelter. Each act was carefully performed in attempt to not be thanked or recognized for the good deeds.
"Basically, that was my thing," she said. "I would never stay for the reaction of people. It wasn't about someone telling me, 'thank you.' It was about how it made me feel without getting that gratitude."
January 28 began with the return of shopping carts from a parking lot to a large store. Her birthday came on January 30 and was highlighted with the final act - the purchase of gifts for those who came to her birthday party.
Her favorite of the 25 good deeds, she said, was the trip to the pediatric wing of the hospital in Winston Salem where she attends law school.
"I met a little girl, and she was so excited to get a coloring book," Amell said. "I left the hospital in tears. It was so amazing. To think that something so small would have such an impact with an 8-year-old girl."
Some of the acts of kindness were as simple as putting change into a person's expired parking meter. Others, like donating food to soup kitchens, were a little more costly and time-consuming. In the end, she says it was totally worth it.
"It was an expensive birthday, but that was ok. I expected that and knew that going into it," Amell said. "I had been talking about it and planning it for months. I was pretty pumped and I had my list ready."
The Stratford High School graduate said it is moments like those she experienced on her 25th birthday that remind her of why she decided to attend law school.
"By the end of it, as cheesy as it sounds, I just wanted to feel like I had give back to show how grateful I am for the blessings I have received over the last 25 years. I wanted to make other people's day great on a day that was special to me."