AUSTIN (KXAN) - Tami Vanderwilt admits to feeling a little bummed out as she faces the Big 5-0.
But rather than cursing the calendar, the Austin mother of four decided that she'd rather make a difference.
Her idea: For 50 days leading up to her 50th birthday, Vanderwilt would do one good deed every single day.
It all started when she heard of a shortage of blood after the shooting rampage in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July.
"It came to my attention that they really were in need of blood, so I thought, ‘I can do that,'" Vanderwilt said Wednesday. "I persuaded my friends to donate. And it just snowballed into thinking about all of the other deeds I can do."
A few of her good deeds so far have included visiting nursing home patients who don't often receive visitors, offering ice cream to fellow canoers on Lady Bird Lake, passing out flowers and hugs downtown -- and even frequenting local Habitat for Humanity project sites, which is where she was on Wednesday.
Stephanie Sobotik, a spokeswoman for Austin Habitat for Humanity, said Vanderwilt's efforts are making lives better.
"These kids will now be able to live in this home for the rest of their lives," Sobotik said at the construction site. "They'll be able to go to one school, they won't have to move around, and statistics show that their education goes up and everything about their home life and stability is improved now that they're able to live in this home, and Tami is making that possible. "
Vanderwilt is hoping that by documenting her project at 50deeds.com, she will inspire others to reach out in their communities.
"If I can do 50 in 50 days, maybe they can take a moment and just do one," she said. "Pay it forward."
She is less than two weeks away from the big day. Her good deeds will come full circle with a blood drive on Oct 7. Vanderwilt is partnering with the Blood Center of Central Texas to get at least 50 pints of blood donated.
"My birthday party is a blood drive," Vanderwilt said. "It's all been very rewarding."
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