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#26Acts of kindness movement grows as feel-good trend goes viral after Newtown

Rock Center 

At the Newtown General Store in Connecticut, Pete Leone has been inundated with calls from around the country, including one from Elizabeth Glass of Annapolis, Maryland.

The mother of a student in first grade, Glass called to offer a gift of coffee to Newtown residents. Her call is part of a massive, unexpected wave of goodwill that began online last weekend with a simple idea: "Imagine if we all committed 20 acts of kindness to honor the lost children of Newtown."

NBC News National and International Correspondent Ann Curry sent the message on Twitter and Facebook. The idea, which invites everyone to carry out acts of kindness for anyone, anywhere, has evolved into a viral effort known as "26 Acts of Kindness" on Facebook and #26Acts and #20Acts on Twitter in honor of the students and faculty who died at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Are You In? Read stories from people who have joined the "26 Acts" movement

Since Sunday, more than 167,000 messages have been shared on the social media sites. Some messages were sent from supporters in foreign countries including Australia, Russia, Finland, Austria and Afghanistan.

Nearly one million hits have been registered on an NBC News web page which shared information and stories about acts of kindness.

On Wednesday a group of women in Westchester County, New York, turned their Christmas gathering into a "26 Acts" vigil and fundraiser.

"I have three daughters and it affected our whole family. We're all grieving together," said Janice Giardina, one of the organizers.

Turning their grief into action felt like a way to break through their darkness.

"There are simple things, you don't need money to do them, but just be kind and do them," Stacy Geisinger said.

One by one these women talked about their acts of kindness, like volunteering at a homeless shelter and helping teenagers and young adults find their way.

Bob Merola, a government official in Newtown, was invited to their vigil.

"I see what's coming in from all around the country," he said. "It's overwhelming. It's nothing I've ever experienced before in my life."

The movement is inspiring others, who shared their stories and photographs with NBC News.

Leanne Fleischer donated food to a food bank in central Florida. Alyson DelPaggio donated jars of baby food to Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, Mass.

Cheryl Green bought more than 20 toys for children at a homeless shelter in Atlanta.

"It brings a little joy to my heart to know that some of these children between the ages of five to 10 just might have a better Christmas than normal," she said in a video recording sent to

At Cumberland High School near Providence, R.I., history teacher Ashley Proulx challenged her students to act.

"Personally, I was in high school when Columbine occurred and I remember the feeling of fear and uneasiness in school and how we never wanted it to happen again," she said. "I wanted to show my students that something good had to come from this tragedy. Something good had to happen and that small acts have a big impact."

Proulx's students gathered books for underprivileged kids and canned foods they planned to donate to a food bank. They also created a "26 Acts" mural in their classroom.

In Campbell, Calif., the community rallied to buy new bicycles for 50 needy elementary school children. The bikes were handed out Thursday afternoon. High fives and smiles all around.

NBC News producers Justin Balding, Anthony Galloway and Tim Sandler contributed to this report.