Pin It A few weeks ago I challenged my class to be kind—anonymously. This idea came from a book titled, “Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.”
The story is about a lonely man who gets a mysterious package on Valentine’s Day with a small note that reads—quite simply—‘Somebody Loves You.’ Not wanting to spoil the story, I will forbear an abridgment.
I challenged my class to do an anonymous act of service for somebody else, and then write about it in their journals. With this charge, the kids set out for a weekend fraught with boxes of Valentines from each other, and overloaded on a sugar high.
The new week came.
As I was reading the kids’ journal entries the following Tuesday, I was greeted with a myriad of service opportunities, including unloading dishwashers, making beds, writing notes of kindness, and many other secret acts of love. But there was one entry that really hit home; it was written by a certain boy who’d made it a point to befriend a neighbor a year ago, one who could—quite easily—be described as a ‘cantankerous old codger.’ According to this boy, the elderly man would yell at kids, swear, scream at the neighbors, and in general had a bad attitude toward life and all those around him.
The boy wrote about how a year ago he’d bought a cupcake for the man, when he’d found out it was his birthday. When he knocked on the door, the man screamed at him. The boy ran home, crying because of the coarse mannerisms of his neighbor.
Yet, the boy did not give up.
Several more times the boy put items on the man’s porch and ran. Small gifts that would be gone the next time the boy went by the house.
When Christmas came, the boy bought a small six-inch tree from the dollar store. He left this meager gift on the man’s porch. As he put it down, he knocked on the door and ran away to hide.
He was caught.
The man called the boy back, and asked him to come in. It was on that day that the man told the boy that something had changed for him…that he appreciated all the things the boy had been doing for him. And also that he was sorry for the way in which he’d behaved before.
And so came an unlikely friendship between a ten year-old boy and a seventy year-old man, two individuals whose lives spanned three generations.
“He’s my friend now,” wrote the boy. “He was really nice after that, and sometimes we’d have hot chocolate at his house or play a game of checkers.”
It was this man for whom my student decided to do his act of kindness for.
It started off with a card, a small Valentine, and a tiny box with chocolates in it. The boy went on to write about how he’d planned to deliver this small token of affection and friendship when there was a knock on his door.
It was the man.
In the elderly man’s hand he held the little Christmas tree the boy had given him months before. He told the boy that he was moving to a rest home, and he wanted to return the tree to him. He then went on to tell the boy how much he’d come to appreciate and love him. He also thanked him for not giving up.
The old man left, and the boy was sad—but hopeful as well.
“I have a good friend.” The boy wrote of the elderly gentlemen. “Somebody who used to be a grumpy old man, but who isn’t anymore.”
Service with a smile.
Kindness given without thought of return.
A boy—only ten years old—who’d made a difference for someone else in the world around him.
Now the challenge goes out to you, my friends. I would like to issue the same charge I did for my class. I challenge you to go out and do an anonymous act of service for somebody else, and come back to tell us what it was. However, since this is anonymous, please leave your comment as ‘anonymous’ so that we don’t know exactly who you are.
You never know just how far that simple, little act will carry. Or the power that kindness might have on somebody else.
photo from Masterfile.com