2016 may not have been the best year for everyone, but the selfless good deeds that these kids did last year might be just what you need to take a breath, restore your faith in humanity, and look ahead to 2017.
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1. An Animal Lover’s Birthday Party
For most kids, birthday parties are a chance to have fun, eat cake, and get as many presents as possible. Yet, when Dalton Shaw of Savanna, Illinois turned five, he decided that instead of asking attendees of his party to bring gifts, he would ask for supplies and donations to help the animals in local shelters. He ended up raising close to $300 and being overwhelmed with donations from food to treats to toys. His animal loving outlook took social media by storm and inspired kids around the country to do the same at their parties.
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2. Understanding Homelessness
When six-year-old Janiyah Lewis saw a man crying on the street she immediately went up to him and asked what was wrong. After he told her about all of the hardship he was going through, Lewis sat and talked with the man, giving him money for a meal and eventually working with her mom to start a Kickstarter campaign to get him back on his feet (they raised $2,000). The man was deeply moved by her actions proving that small acts go a long way.
3. Creating a More Beautiful World
When Amelia Meyer was diagnosed with brain cancer, the “Make a Wish” Foundation gave her the chance to wish for any experience she wanted. She could have gone to Europe or Disneyland or met the President, but instead she wished to clean up the parks in her hometown of Kansas City. She was inspired after walking through the parks with her grandmother and noting how dirty they were. Thousands of volunteers turned out at four parks across the city to make her wish a reality and the mayor designated the day “Amelia Meyer’s Take Care of the World Day.” She is truly a leader and is making the world a little bit prettier.
4. A Different Type of Hero
11-year-old Nicholas DeGregorio was disappointed when the Veterans Day parade in his town of North Bellmore, New York was cancelled due to rain. Still wanting to honor the heroism of the veterans in his community, he got his parents to drive him down the streets of the town while he played his trumpet. When he arrived at the town’s Veterans Memorial he encountered Chris Lannacone, a disabled vet who had not received word that the parade had been canceled. Sensing Lannacone’s disappointment, Nicholas decided to play “It’s a Grand Old Flag” on his trumpet for Lannacone. The result was heartwarming.
5. The Power of Google Translate
When Amanda Moore, an elementary school student in California, noticed her new classmate Rafael Anaya was eating lunch alone every day, she knew she had to do something. Rafael had just moved to California from Mexico and didn’t speak much English so instead of speaking directly to him, Amanda wrote him a note using google translate, asking him to sit with her at lunch and be her friend. Rafael was deeply moved by her note, telling local news stations that the two of them will now be friends forever.
6. A lot of Hair
After watching a video on Facebook about the struggles of a 5 year-old cancer patient, Thomas Moore, a 5th grader from Bowie, Maryland, decided to do something. For two years he didn’t cut his hair, letting it get really long. When he finally did cut it, he donated his luscious locks to be used to make wigs for cancer patients. As a result of his kindness, three wigs were made.
7. Celebrating Difference
Lydia Bossley, a preschooler, is a little bit different than any of her peers — she has a port-wine stain birthmark on her left cheek. After noticing the fact that some of her preschool classmates were making comments about her face, Lydia asked her teacher to read her favorite book — “Sam’s Birthmark,” the story of a little boy living with a port wine stain birthmark on his face. Lydia told her mom she just wanted the other people in her class to understand the mark on her face so they would stop talking about it. Despite the fact that Lydia is only two years old, she is already making a meaningful contribution to the world by letting those around her know that being different is okay.
8. An Inspiring Speech about Autism
Keira Meikus, a nine-year-old student at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Homewood, Alabama, recently decided to be very open and honest about her diagnosis on the autism spectrum. When autism awareness month rolled around at her school, the 4th grader decided to deliver a powerful speech about having autism to the entire student body. She emphasized the fact that a person who has autism just has a brain that works differently and struggles with things like eye contact and social cues but that doesn’t make them any less capable of being a friend, a student, or anything else. Keira emphasized that autism manifests itself differently from person to person. Her powerful speech to break down barriers and bring awareness to what it is like to live with autism is truly inspiring.
9. Thanking the Mailman
One hot day this summer, Carmine McDaniel, an eight-year-old living in Newport News, Virginia, was worried about his local mailman, Henry Bailey. So he left a cooler full of ice-cold water and Gatorade out on his front porch along with a note letting Bailey know to help himself. Bailey’s reaction, caught on camera, is one of pure joy and gratitude. Carmine and Bailey now have a rich friendship — sometimes Bailey takes Carmine to the post office with him and sometimes they just sit and talk. This story shows the power of a small gesture to prompt a beautiful friendship.
10. Making a Friend at the Grocery Store
When four-year-old Norah went into the grocery store on her birthday to pick up some cupcakes for a celebration, she wasn’t expecting to make a new friend. Yet, as she was walking through the aisles with her mom, she encountered who she came to know as “Mr Dan,” eagerly saying ‘Hi old person! It’s my birfday today!’” Her kindness melted his heart. After Norah and Mr. Dan chatted and took pictures together, Mr. Dan told her that she made him happier than he has felt in a long time. This first interaction was only the beginning of a powerful friendship. The two celebrated Mr. Dan’s 82nd birthday together and meet up on a weekly basis to talk and play. Their friendship is the testament to the fact that friendship can transcend age.