Friday, January 1, 2021


Happy new year from Barbara at The Corner on Character. As I peek into my January calendar after an incredibly unusual 2020, I’m wondering if anybody else wishes every day were Kind-day like I do. But is it just an idealistic dream or a Pollyanna mindset to think that way? Not if you believe that anything is possible.

So I’m on a kindness crusade to make it a reality. Won’t you join me? I’ve heard it said that kindness is love with its snow boots on, so all you’ll need is a pair of boots. And maybe a shovel.

I know there’s a lot of love in that huge heart of yours, so let’s get to work. Here are a few of our ideas to help get started warming the world with kindness.

1. Positivity Sticks. This young superhero came to me asking if she could please eat lunch with me. Before I could get the word yes out, she asked if she could bring three friends. Thinking they had a conflict they wanted me to mediate, I agreed and we made a date. When they arrived, they asked if I had any sticky notes and markers. They had a plan: They were going to write positive, uplifting messages that they would deliver to the third-grade bathrooms during lunch so that it would surprise their friends in the afternoon. How super sweet is that? Never underestimate the power of a kind thought, a kind word, a kind deed to inspire and influence.

2. Knitting Kindness. If you’re looking for a project that you can do with a club, why not consider teaching a skill to meet a need. Now in our 17th year, this group of third-grade knitters comes together weekly to make hats for preemies to help reduce the infant mortality rate. A cap is an essential, lifesaving measure that many people in underdeveloped countries don’t have access to, so we knit to help save lives. Community members from the local Knitting Guild volunteer to make it an intergenerational activity. Knit Club members come back as mentors in grades four and five. Kids helping kids; is there any better way to warm the world?

3. Mentoring matters. Serving as a mentor to someone is another fantastic way to elevate empathy, practice compassion, and show kindness. High School Mathletes come to help us learn our math facts.

High School PAL (Peer Assistance and Leadership) students visit weekly to help us practice our social skills and learn to cooperate and work collaboratively.

And Big Sister role models sometimes stop by just for fun, like this cookie-frosting visit on Dr. Seuss Day.

4. Write on! Writing someone a note and/or drawing a picture is another easy, no-cost way to brighten someone’s day and sprinkle kindness like glitter. I received this beautiful ray of sunshine on a day recently when I was feeling more than a little gray and it totally filled me with sunshine and restored my joy. How could you use your words to be the rainbow in someone’s storm?

5. Sweet Treats. Kind acts don’t have to be great to be grand. One summer, my high-school son and I had the opportunity to deliver some hand-dipped chocolate candies to a group of people who are challenged by homelessness. He was caught off guard twice when one of the ladies asked him for the recipe and one of the men told a story about how he used to make those very same peanut butter balls with his children when they were younger. A third encounter left him baffled when one of the men came back for seconds and told him that if he were to put peppermint candies on the white chocolate coating that he could actually sell them at a store for $8 a dozen. Entrepreneurial tips from a homeless stranger-turned-friend sparked so many questions and elevated our empathy as we tried to make sense of and understand their lives, their hurdles and their circumstances. Kindness for the win!

6. Service and sacrifice. A special annual service project at our school is our S.O.S. (Sweets for our Soldiers) campaign. We create thank-you cards and send them along with kindness from our kitchens in the form of homemade brownies and cookies to our active-duty military personnel currently deployed to somewhere overseas. Sometimes they’ll Skype or Zoom chat in so we can watch them open what they fondly call our ‘hugs from home’ right in front of us on the big screen. We must never forget that freedom isn’t free; this is just a small token of our gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

So there you have it, six simple suggestions to give kindness some traction in your character building. And though you may have to work with intention to adapt some of our suggestions to stay distanced, masked up and safe, you can still lace up those boots and start making those kindness footprints today. And tomorrow. And every day after that until kindness becomes an everyday thing and every day becomes Kind-day.

How will you warm our world (WOW) with kindness today?

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