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April 23, 2011
Modeling Kindness

Brings a Tear to the Eye

Recently, I read the most endearing article about a kindergarten class, which simply brought a tear to my eye, and I think it will to yours, too!  When the students of a kindergarten class in Pennsylvania first learned of the traumatic events in Japan, the children asked about Aki and wanted to know what was happening to all those people halfway across the world.

As the teacher was discussing the impact on the families, a little girl, named Hailie shouted, “Hey! We should send them stuff!”  And thus, the planning and gathering began.

The children brought in clothing, toys, bags of toothbrushes, toothpaste, dried goods, and what was clearly valued—a Bob the Builder carrying case, filled with some equally valuable smaller toys. One child even brought in the contents of his piggy bank. All of this they happily added to the growing pile of generosity.

The classroom teacher was contacted by a journalism student from Penn State.  Drawn to the selfless acts of these children, she wanted to visit the classroom to videotape the story for her news program.  The children couldn’t imagine why this project would be considered unique or newsworthy.  They are, of course, 5-year olds with Lego Starships and Play-Doh Factories being of imminent importance in their lives. But even more precious is their innocence and purity of heart.  It wouldn’t occur to them that there might be an alternative to their generosity.

The journalist arrived and began to film and question the children.  One little boy replied “the tsunami made him happy and sad because water is important to the planet and plants and life;” but he was sad because “the water was in a tsunami that killed people,” which is so amazingly discerning and insightful for a five-year old.

The next morning the children had “show and tell,” where they share their most treasured toys. Hailie hopped on the rocking chair, held up her mermaids, and said, “These are my two mermaids. I love them; I play with them every day and sleep with them every night.” The teacher said she could attest to this because Hailie drew and talked about mermaids every day at school.

When “show and tell” was over, she grabbed her mermaids and placed them gently on the pile, headed for Japan.

The teacher looked at her and said, “Are you sure, Hailie? I know how much they mean to you.”
Hailie smiled a huge smile, “Yes! I want to give them to Aki’s friends.” Then, she turned and ran away.

She bolted across the room, leaving a tear in her teacher’s eye and in mine upon reading her story. Her teacher said, “I felt incredible pride in that tiny gesture that spoke to my heart.”

In these times, when there is so much controversy about young people, teachers, the education system, and failures at home, it is heartwarming to read such a beautiful and inspirational account, exemplifying kindness, modeled on all levels—home, school, and peer.

To learn more about this special kindergarten class, visit http://www.centredaily.com/2011/04/17/2653064/kids-selfless-actions-bring-tear.html.

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