"During this pandemic, I think people are starting to realize that ... every person you come into contact with is fighting some kind of battle, whether it’s appointments or unmet expectations of others or health or bullying or whatever it is," says Debbie McFarland, a 53-year-old photographer from Georgia. "Everyone's facing a battle, and if you can get one tiny spark to ignite a hope within them, then it does something within them." Some years ago, she started an online community united in random acts of kindness. During the pandemic, interest has grown, and the group now spans about 5,000 members across 40 countries. Photos and stories, shared, simply lift your heart -- "especially in tumultuous times of pandemic, protest and political division," writes The Associated Press. A baggie sits by a fountain with dozens of pennies and a note: "Take a penny. Make a wish! Hope your dreams come true." A tin of cookies plopped on an ambulance running board outside a nursing home with a note for the emergency workers on duty: You're AMAZING! Yes, you!" From sending gifts of flowers to paying for someone's order when their debit card was rejected to taking soup and biscuits to "a sick mama next door," the Sparks of Kindness group reminds all involved -- and all invisibly affected -- how wired to care and deeply connected we are.

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