Plenty of people are fantasizing about their dream wedding. It has to be unique, lavish, over-the-top, big, bigger, biggest! And of course this will cost a lot of money. But some couples decide to do it differently. They decide to elope and spend their money on a big honeymoon or round-the-world-trip. Or you have couples like Mark and Ismini Svensson from Orangeburg, New York, who decided on a small wedding, forego an expensive reception and decide to make their honeymoon a special trip through the United States and perform acts of kindness, one in each state.
Their ’50 Acts of Giving Back’, as they call it, has taken them for the past two years all over the United States. The Svenssons were inspired to start this acts of kindness trip by Ismini’s father. He passed away unexpectedly after attending a charity event he organized. ‘We realized my father wouldn’t be at our wedding, ‘ Ismani told NBC News. ‘So we’re trying to figure out ways we make it so somehow in his memory, we do something he maybe would love to see us do.’ Their decision was a simple one. ‘We both realized that what makes us happiest is helping people in need.’
In every state they do an act of kindness, however large or small, but always meaningful:
– In New Jersey they donated clothes in an effort to support the Rescue Mission of Trenton;
– In Rhode Island they spoke about the importance of being kind at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf;
– They gave out meals for homeless people in Missouri;
– In Louisiana they gave gifts to underprivileged children and local citizens in need;
– In Texas they supported the elderly by providing flowers, gifts and helping with grocery shopping;
– They made a donation to the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter in Colorado in an effort to help protect, preserve, and improve the quality of the environment;
– In Oklahoma they met and provided support to veterans and their families;
– They traveled to California where they helped furnish a home for two former homeless mothers and their children through the House of Ruth. They also provided financial and emotional support to a homeless man;
– In Nevada, Mark and Ismani donated new books to children and participated in a Storytime Reading for young children and their parents to promote the importance of early childhood literacy;
– In Florida they showed rescued animals their love with support to the Humane Society where animals are provided food, shelter, medical care and love.
While they are paying their own way, during their State-wide trip they have received a lot of donations and started their own non-profit organization, StayUNITED. Their mission is to improve the quality of life in local communities by creating a brighter future for children and youth.
‘The message is everyone can do something to make a difference, even in their own communities, even if it’s a compliment to someone,’ Mark said. ‘You never know the impact it may have on another person.’
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