Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Somebody Loves You...

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

29 comments:

Shannon said...

I am completely speechless. Oh, to have the unassuming yet relentless heart of a child at all times. What a beautiful story and a magnificent young man you have in your class Mr. Z.

Lori said...

Hoo, boy. Little weepy, here--THANKS. This kind of reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird, only better, because it's REAL. What a great kid, and what a fabulous post.

Denae said...

What a great story.. it tugged my heartstrings in a wonderful way. Thank You for sharing. I am excited to look for opportunities for kindness.

Linn said...

That is beautiful! How many of us would have given up after the cupcake incident? I mean really, I would have and felt totally justified. I wish this boy in your class could know how profoundly he has affected me today--and for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

Did it. But aint tellin' what I did....

Thanks for this post. And the opportunity to act on it.

Anonymous said...

Left a small something for a special someone.

Anonymous said...

I left a note for somebody else. They'll never guess it was really me. Thanks be to the little boy who sets the example for the big kids.

A Lark said...

First I have to say that this is one of my favorite books - I have to hold back the tears every time I read it to my kids on Valentine's Day.
Great idea. Love the story about the boy and the old man. And I accept the challenge. (:

Anonymous said...

Paid someone's utility bill.

Anonymous said...

I bought dinner for two complete strangers in a restaurant. They have no idea who did it for them. It gave me a good feeling to do that. Thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous said...

I learned about national pancake day. Had some pancakes. Donated to the Children's Miracle Network.

Anonymous said...

Shoveled the neighbor's walk and steps.

Anonymous said...

I burned and left a CD of a friend's favorite artist at their front door.

Anonymous said...

Made a donation towards the cure for diabetes.

Anonymous said...

I went and scraped off my elderly neighbor's car windows before she left for her weekly doctor's visit this morning.

Anonymous said...

Left a candy bar in a co-worker's desk. They were thrilled when they found it.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE hearing what other people have done! Makes me realize just how easy it is to do something. What I have done (but I will try this challenge on a daily basis), I took a small load off another coworkers by just doing some of the things on her to do list. She didn't find out about it until she went to do it and it was already done.

Anonymous said...

Left quarters in all of the prize machines at the front of the supermarket so some kid will come along and just have to turn the crank to get something.

Anonymous said...

Bought an ice cream for the person in line behind me.

Anonymous said...

I left $200 under the door mat of a needy family's house. Then I called from a payphone and left a message in a different voice telling them to check it.

Anonymous said...

Made a donation towards finding a cure for muscular dystrophy.

Teachinfourth said...

Keep up the good work everybody! I'm getting some great ideas of how to do small acts of service!

Anonymous said...

I heart-attack the doors of girls in my dorm periodically, something which is something unheard of at my pacific island catholic university. It's great to hear and see girls happier than the day before, simply because they realize 'somebody loves [them].' Although I often struggle not to laugh at their conclusions, I enjoy listening the to them try to figure out who has done it!
oh, the joys of anonymous service!

Anonymous said...

I just donated money to Primary Children's Medical Center. The money goes to charity care and will help a family who otherwise couldn't afford their hospital bill. I have no idea who my money will help and the family will have no idea who donated the money.

Anonymous said...

Left a Diet Coke and note for a co-worker.

Anonymous said...

Instead of getting frustrated with my husband for something he did that messed up my schedule, I smiled, laughed, hugged him and moved on.

Anonymous said...

I gave up doing something I had planned & really wanted to do to help someone in need.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog...and I'll do a kind act of service. But first, I just have to say that I LOVE the person that put quarters into the machines at the front of the store. That made me laugh! What a cool idea. I just had to imagine if my 4-yr old was the one to find that. That would have made his day and mine. Too cute. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved the idea of the vending machine. I put two quarters in them on my way out of the grocery store tonight.

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