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How to Be a Better Neighbor

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Everyday Kindness

  • Always say hello. In the post office, grocery store or as people drive by your house, a quick smile and nod to strangers builds bonds. "We all long to connect with people and be valued in life. It helps us think, I have meaning here, I have a place here," says Leslie Levine, author of Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home? (Contemporary Books).
  • Make little things count. When one of her neighbors is out of town, Margaret Littman of Chicago hauls his trash cans to the curb, turns off his sprinkler timer if it rains and accepts his UPS packages.
  • Be there in times of need. When one Chandler, Arizona man's wife was diagnosed with cancer, his neighbors immediately circled the wagons. "One of us put together a schedule, and we all took turns cooking dinner for the family from January until late June, after his wife had died," says Maliha Weintraub.
  • When Judi Kirkwood's son was unexpectedly hospitalized for a few weeks, her Madison, Wisconsin, neighbors decided to mow her lawn all summer. "They wanted us to have one less thing to worry about," she says.
  • Exchange house keys for emergencies. "Getting locked out can ruin your day," Levine notes. And if you've been known to lock yourself out of your car, consider giving a trusted neighbor a copy of your car key, too.

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