Have you ever wondered in recent months just what you can do to make a difference in these strange and challenging times? I don’t think we can really comprehend the effects, great and small, taking place in everyone’s lives. Now, over eight months into this pandemic, people are getting tired of the struggle and scared of what might be next. With the uncertainty and strain of avoiding sickness, losing jobs, closing businesses, home schooling and the prospect of no extended family holidays, we also get to endure the weeks leading up to a presidential election. Now you might be thinking, "Jim, this isn’t feeling like the upbeat message I come looking for each week," but it is. I wouldn’t disappoint you. I’ve simply come to assess the current state and remind us all of what time it is. It may feel like the time to be cautious of others, the time to watch out for ourselves and our families, and the time to feel sorry for the things we are missing and not able to enjoy. But I have decided it is a more important time than we could have imagined. IT IS TIME TO BE KIND! What better mantra could we have right now, today, than to just be kind? Never before have we needed an extra dose of patience and kindness more . . . for our spouse, children, coworkers, neighbors, friends and family members that live far away. This newsletter is full of simple ideas that will make you and everyone around you feel better. Oh yes, when you don’t know what to do next, just remember, it’s a great time to BE KIND!
Only If You're Sincere
True kindness is not an act itself but it comes from a sincere desire to do something with no ulterior motive. A quiet, anonymous deed that simply encourages or helps another has rich rewards for the giver. You see, you don't have to search for opportunities to be compassionate and kind; your conscience will alert you in an instant. You'll know without a doubt when you should be patient with a co-worker, volunteer where needed, or give a little more of yourself when you're tired and have a thousand other things to do. Sincerity is where true giving begins and kindness takes over.
The Kindness Club
Just the name feels good, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to be part of a club whose sole purpose is to be kind to others and do simple things to make others' days better? When the JP Horizons team heard about this group of high school students in Ohio that not only identified with the importance of being kind to others but also became committed to it, we knew we had a story for our readers to enjoy.
Ms. Scarlett Raines is the school Media Center Specialist and is also on the Mental Health Team Committee at Hillsdale High School, Jeromesville, Ohio. When a school guidance counselor proposed the idea of the Kindness Club for their school district, she was all in. “When there is an opportunity for students to flourish, I’m interested,” she shares. The club is run by students and encourages members across the student body, freshmen though seniors, to participate. Prior to this year with hybrid learning, the group met once a week after lunch to prepare their kindness activities for the following week and plan for the rest of the year. This would offer those with limited transportation an opportunity to be part of a club and made the club within everyone’s reach no matter social status, talent, or athletic and academic ability. This year, the club meets twice a month and has had to limit some of their activities, but their mission remains strong, and they carry on. Each year the club chooses a mantra. This year it is: #Be kind, #Be true, #Be you.
The group has done kindness activities such as the following and come up with new and creative ideas each year:
- Renew, Refresh, Replenish - Clean Lockers out, and offer new supplies
- World Kindness Day - greet every student as they arrive with a treat
- You are loved locker notes for ALL students
- Random Act of Kindness Day
- National Kindness Week - daily deeds and duties to reach students and staff
- Nursing Home visit: cards and conversation
One of the club’s favorite activities, appreciated by the entire community, was the painting and sharing of Kindness Rocks, rocks painted with inspiring thoughts and distributed throughout the school and the community.
Their most memorable hit, KINDSTOCK, is a unique event that offers a perfect blend of music and kindness established by students and their advisors. Started in the first year of the Kindness Club, it has become an annual community favorite. The event is pulled off with 100% donations for silent auction items, food, student décor, free band performances, etc. Then the entry fee along with a percentage of food truck profit all go to a local charity.
Kindness Buy In
Ms. Raines and her co-advisor first engaged the students by offering sweets and brainstorming sessions each month. “The 'feel good' reward sells itself once they redeem the propelling power of showing kindness together as a club,” Raines says. When asked what she finds most rewarding in advising this student group over the past four years, she replied, “By being kind, we reduce trauma. The most rewarding part of this program is to find creative ways to increase the mental safety and security for so many of the members and others as a result of our Kindness Club’s actions. It is easy to be kind and all givers and receivers benefit.”
I think we can safely say that kindness is never a waste of time, and everyone involved always benefits in one way or another. This unique endeavor by the Hillsdale High School advisors and students proved to mean more than anyone anticipated. In a broad cross-section of their student body, it wasn’t the cool kids, the athletic kids, or the academic stars who made a difference. Their common ground remains in the kindness they show toward others.
Just for Fun
Just for fun, try a few of these simple acts of kindness and add your own to the list:
- Help someone elderly with their lawn, shopping, or housework.
- Compliment someone for their smile.
- Put your grocery cart in the return bin.
- Pick up a piece of litter.
- Bring a coworker a cup of coffee.
- Put a dime in an expired parking meter.
- Smile and wave at a pedestrian or the person in the car next to you.
- Let the person behind you in line go ahead of you.
- Greet sales clerks by name as they help you.
- Compliment a stranger's home, garden or yard that you've admired.
- Give another driver your parking spot.
- Smile and wave as you let someone merge into your line of traffic.
- Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, thanking them for having such a great employee.
- Call someone just to say how special they are.
- Go to a nursing home and visit with 5 people you don't know.
- Leave a plate of cookies on a neighbor's doorstep.
- Stick a note in your child's coat pocket, lunchbox or book bag that says, "You're the greatest!"
- Leave a note for your spouse that will be found after you've gone separate ways for the day.
- Do a task that will save someone else time.
- Take orders before you go out to pick up your own lunch.
Kindness Quotes from the Kindness Club
“Being able to see someone who is having a bad day smile is just an incredible feeling, and we were able to do that every day. Even something just as simple as 'Can I help you with that?' can do more than you can guess.” - Caiti Donaugh, HHS Kindness Club member
“Being kind means being willing to do the right thing no matter what the circumstances, either mundane or extraordinary.” - HHS Kindness Club member
“I define kindness as giving someone the shirt off your back and expecting nothing back.” - HHS Kindness Club member
“The things we do to help around the school or to help the community are not only fun, but they fill you with a sense of well-being and joy that you did something good for someone other than yourself.” - Kayedance Scott, HHS Kindness Club member
“I joined the Kindness Club because I found it as a good way to give back and spread positivity in the school. I valued being with my friends spreading kindness.” - HHS Kindness Club member