By Kristina Saliba, Staff Writer

When you pass a homeless person on the street, though you may think to drop in some of your spare change, not many of you would put in $16,000 into that battered Styrofoam cup.

Sarah Darling did not exactly mean to do that when she passed Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man on the streets of Kansas City, and accidently dropped her engagement ring in with the quarters, nickels and dimes, according to Kansas City Television in a story released earlier this month.

Darling realized what she had done, and returned to Harris the next day asking if he still had her ring. He readily handed it over and in turn, Darling’s fiancé set up a website publicizing this “act of kindness” and has raised over $100,000 for Harris from donations.

These random acts of kindness seem to have been rampant recently.

In the past few months there have been quite a few instances of benevolence, from a woman doing 37 kind things for strangers on her 37th birthday out of her pure appreciation for just being alive, to the recent act of kindness inspired by the holiday spirit, where people in a Starbuck’s drive-through line paid for the person in the car behind them, creating a domino effect of generosity.

So why are people so shocked when someone does something kind for them? Why are people donating $100 to the Billy Ray Harris fund out of appreciation for something that any good person would do? I think Harris himself describes it best when he says in an interview with KTNV-TV, “What I actually feel like is, what has the world come to when a person returns something that don’t belong to them and all of this happens?”

And I agree with him. What has the world come to? While Harris is bemused and somewhat confused with all the money someone can get for simply returning “something that don’t belong to them”, I am genuinely concerned. Harris is a good man, for sure – he didn’t make easy cash by selling the ring, and didn’t lie when Darling asked if he still had it. Little could Harris have known that returning the ring would get him so much more in return, so my best guess is that he simply did just do a kind thing– he had no ulterior motives. Do we expect less from someone who is homeless? Maybe the Billy Ray Harris fund is proof that we do, and is therefore evidence that we need to change this pessimistic thinking. In my opinion, people not only can be good, they  usually want to be. And more often than not, they are.

The original Bille Ray Harris story: