Joe Andruzzi is no stranger to the idea of random acts of kindness. So, when explosions went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, showering onlookers with shrapnel and shattered glass, the former offensive lineman for the New England Patriots turned toward the blasts and started helping the injured, carrying people to safety.
“Marathon Monday should be about uplifting stories, personal challenges and fundraising milestones, but today’s bombings irrevocably changed that,” Andruzzi said in a statement.
Andruzzi's three brothers are New York City firefighters who were on duty during the 9/11 attacks, and on Monday Andruzzi was quick to deflect praise, asking people instead to focus on those whom he called "the true heroes."
“While I appreciate the interest in hearing our perspective on today’s horrific events, the spotlight should remain firmly on the countless individuals -- first responders, medics, EMTs, runners who crossed the finish line and kept on running straight to give blood, and the countless civilians who did whatever they could to save lives," he said. "They were the true heroes. Our thoughts prayers go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”
Carlos Arrendondo, an anti-war protester and peace activist whose son died in Iraq, was in the bleachers when the blasts went off.
"I jumped the fence after the first explosions and all I saw was a puddle of blood and people with lost limbs," he told ABC News. "I saw adults, much younger than myself -- ladies, men, pretty much everyone was knocked out."
One victim had lost both legs and was covered in blood; Arrendono, 52, used his own clothing to staunch some of the bleeding, and helped the man into a wheelchair, talking to him the whole time so that he wouldn't lose consciousness. The man was one of more than 170 people injured in the blast. Three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, Massachusetts, were killed.
With hotels in the Copley Square area closed and public transportation at least partially shut down Monday evening, more than 4,000 Boston area residents opened their homes to stranded runners, posting notices on Facebook and signing up online if they had a spare room to offer.
"I am at a college dorm, no extra bed or anything, tight space," one Northeastern University student responded on the Boston Globe's site. "But still wanted to offer a warm place."
"I don't have much, but I'm willing to give sleeping space and shelter," another Boston resident offered.
"I don't live in the city," wrote another volunteer. "But would happily drive anywhere to pick up a runner who needs food, shelter and comfort." The first offer to help was posted at 5:39, less than two hours after the explosions went off.
In the confusion immediately after the explosions, local businesses opened their doors to customers, offering everything from free wifi to free food. Jim Hoben, the owner of El Pelon Taqueria on Peterborough Street, sent out a tweet, encouraging people to stop by. "Open wifi, place to charge cell, or just don't want to be alone, food and drinks," they Tweeted. "Pay only if you can." His staff, he said on Tuesday, "didn't blink when asked and gladly served everyone who came through."
On Tuesday, the Museum of Fine Arts waived its fees and opened its doors to everyone, especially travelers who were still stranded in the city. "In response to the tragic events at yesterday’s Boston Marathon, general admission to the MFA is free to the public today," they said in a statement. "The Museum’s galleries and special exhibitions are open for visitors who wish to find a place of respite during this painful time for our community. Drop-in programs, including art-making activities, tours, and story hours for families and children are available."
On social media, people mobilized to help those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. A new hashtag, #BostonHelp, cropped up on Twitter, and Jay Proto, who administers the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page, put out a call for volunteers to send their support to the Boston Community.
"The Boston community is in need of signs of love and support, and that's what we are all about," he posted on Facebook. "Please consider sending a card or hand written letter showing you care."(Those who would like to do so can send letters to 26 Acts of Kindness at PO Box 185083, Hamden, CT 06518; they will be forwarded to communities in Boston.)
"The one positive thing that I've been able to find in it is that at least there are people who will band together to support the community," Proto told Yahoo! Shine on Tuesday. So far, "The response has been positive." More than 660 people have shared the call for support, and Proto is hopeful that the letters will start pouring in soon. "If you can't do anything else, at least you can do this."
The simple call for love and kindness has already inspired others to see what they can do to help. "I now start my 26 Acts of Kindness for Boston," Donna Rebadow wrote on Facebook. "I begin with an Act of Kindness for Martin Richard, then for each of his family, and then for all killed and injured! America, the beautiful. My country, my choice to be kind!"