Family of Guilford Teen Killed by Gun Starts “Kindness Page”

The incredible outpouring from the community to support causes that meant the most to the Guilford teenager who tragically died on January 31st from a gun shot is continuing.

The family of Ethan Song has started up a “Ethan Song Acts of Kindness Page” on Facebook to ask people to commit an act of kindness in memory of the 15-year-old boy.

The page has garnered over 1,500 likes, has over 1,500 followers. It asks anyone who does an act of kindness in Ethan’s memory to share the act on the page.

This Facebook page comes on the heels of a GoFundMe page that was started by Ethan’s family which has, to date, raised over $112,000 – more than 20 times the amount the family asked for originally – in support of the causes that Ethan’s family said Ethan cared deeply about – namely animal rights, human rights, gun education and advocacy.

Some of the acts of kindness that have been shared on the “Kindness Page” on Facebook include the upcoming “Community Art Workshop in Honor of Ethan Song,” which will be held on Sunday, March 18th from 1-4 p.m. at the Guilford Art Center.

The Facebook post says that “Ethan’s mom, Kristin, suggested a project to benefit kids in the Connecticut foster care system. In this workshop, we’ll make one-of-a-kind fleece blankets, pillows and other objects. Making art can bring us together and making it for others can be an act of kindness, in the spirit of Ethan, and his family.”

Also posted on the page are buttons which say #songstrong and songstrong shirts and helmets and bracelets, hats and ornaments that have been sold to help various causes.


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Malaysian boy’s random act of kindness at Phuket Airport touches hearts

A 13-year-old Malaysian boy has inspired many when he decided to go out of his way to help a stranger.

His act of kindness was shared on social media by the very person who received help from him at the Phuket International Airport.

Ady Sacol, an operations manager at IBEX Global Philippines, was on the same flight with Tee from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur.

According to Sacol, Tee was participating in a basketball competition but had to fly home as his grandfather had passed away.

“Sean Tee was sitting beside me on our boarding gate and I think he knew I was injured because I was on a wheelchair (other than my obvious no bandage-swollen-reddish-full of blood wound on my knee and foot).

“He then asked me: Are you hungry, tell me what food you want to eat?

“I was trying to get my wallet but Sean insisted that he will be paying for it,” he wrote.

When they were informed of a boarding gate change, Tee didn’t leave him.

The boy painstakingly carried Sacol’s 15kg backpack from gate four to 14, a 15-minute walk.

Tee also accompanied Sacol on the special vehicle used to transport disabled passenger to the aircraft.

When they arrived at KLIA2, there was no wheelchair available.

Tee, with Sacol’s 15kg backpack, assisted him like his own brother.

The boy walked him, tried to carry Sacol to the best of his ability until the airport buggy arrived.

“But the buggy will only transport me on the third floor so we need to use the lift to go down.

“Unfortunately no buggy nor wheelchair is available as well on the second floor,” he recalled.

Tee then took a cart and told Sacol to sit down.

He then started pushing the cart until they reached the immigration counters where they went their separate ways, but not before Sacol expressed his thanks and gratitude to the boy.

However, to his surprise, Tee was waiting for him outside the immigration counters with a juice drink for him.

Tee also help to unload his luggage from the carousel and pushed the cart.

Tee never left his side until Sacol noted that the boy’s driver had arrived.

Even then, the boy had insisted his driver can help but Sacol declined as he had already received too much help from him.

“Sean, remember the Philippine money I gave you which I wrote something on it?

“I said the money doesn’t have a value at all, it’s the message that is more precious and priceless.

“Keep it as a simple remembrance of our very short but memorable time together,” he wrote.

Sacol believes their encounter wasn’t a coincidence.

He described the boy as his angel and he can’t thank him enough for the kindness and generosity.

“You are a treasure to your family and friends.

“I will always remember you for the rest of my life,” he added.


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Parent ‘astonished’ by Central students’ gesture

Stephan Jordan celebrated his birthday last week a little differently than before.

To the 16-year-old, March 9 was just another day, but to dozens of his classmates at Central High School, it was a chance to show a little extra kindness.

Fellow sophomores Lex Rauer and Gaige Cox rallied other students to make cards for Stephan’s birthday. They even talked to a teacher, Cale Lyons, who asked students in his classes to participate. And they did. Rauer and Cox were able to deliver more than 30 handwritten birthday cards to Stephan on his big day.

“Everybody deserves friends,” said Rauer, 16. “Everybody should have them. At least a close friend.”

But friendship hasn’t been easy for Stephan, said his mother Amelia Jordan, a Spanish teacher at Central. She said she has spoken about her son’s hardships to some of her students.

Stephan has high-functioning autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and epilepsy. He started classes at the local high school last fall. He attends classes half days now, and his mom believes he can go to full days soon.

“Stephan has experienced a lot of severe bullying over the years (at a previous school), particularly the last few years,” Amelia Jordan said. “It got so bad it got to a point where he just closed down. He shut himself off. When he meets new people he gets nervous. Sometimes he can get so loud just because he’s on defense mode.”

His experiences with bullying did not happen at Central High School and his parents are working hard to make him realize that not everyone is bad.

It’s why the random act of kindness was so astonishing.

“I saw it as an awesome opportunity for (Stephan) to see that there are people who are very willing to give and very friendly and not everyone is out to get you,” Amelia Jordan said.

Cox, 15, said he met Stephan in class and thought he was nice and had a great sense of humor.

“Whenever I heard it was his birthday and he didn’t really have anyone that was going to talk to him or anything … and then Lex started talking about getting the cards and stuff, I thought it was a great idea,” he said.

The boys were initially just going to buy birthday cards for their classmate, but they decided to kick it up a notch.

Rauer texted a couple of friends from school about making cards. He then went to Lyons and his whole class made cards.

Amelia Jordan said her son was so excited about the cards and has been trying to figure out how he will read all the kind notes.

Rauer said he was aware that Stephan didn’t have many friends and often ate alone at lunch.

“I don’t think that that’s OK,” he said. “I thought that with as many people as we had do it, as he read those cards, he’ll realize there’s a lot of people out there that care about him and know who he is, and he’d be more comfortable with the people at school and branch out from there.”

Amelia Jordan is thankful that patience and understanding are going a long way.

“A lot of time, when people see kids with autism, all they see is behavior,” she said. “They don’t understand that generally those behaviors don’t happen unless they’re bullied or they feel threatened. That’s when those behaviors typically happen. If people think about it, most people have behaviors when they feel threatened.”

For Amelia Jordan and her husband, Dan, the cards symbolize the quality of kids who attend Central. The acceptance, she said, is overwhelming.


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One woman hopes kindness acts start a movement

San Diego visitor Nahla Summers ran onto a train to give fruit and trail mix to a woman who had left her place in a food concession line because her train pulled in and she had to board. The stranger, surprised and delighted, said she would pass the favor forward.

The next day Summers spotted a homeless man rummaging through trash bins. She gave him her energy bar.

Its label said “Kind.” That four-letter word symbolizes Summers’ mission. She traveled here from her home in England to San Diego to cycle across the United States with a rallying call for random acts of kindness.

Her trip to St. Augustine, Fla., is 3,055 miles. She hopes, by the time she gets there, those viewing her website and travel blog will have shared stories of at least 3,055 acts of kindness for strangers that were inspired by her journey.

She left San Diego on March 3. When I caught up with her by phone on March 11, she had made it to Phoenix.

Summers had pedaled up mountains, crossed a desert and faced a grinding battle against punishing headwinds that made it seem like she was riding a stationary bike. At one point, she even lost her cycling shoes when they were left on top of her escort van. She discovered them on the g round about 60 yards down the road.

Nevertheless, the admittedly inexperienced cyclist remains committed to her cause. Kindness became the only meaning in her life after a sudden heart attack took the life of her longtime partner. First, she raised money for various charitable causes in his memory.

“But since then I have realized the power of kindness, how invaluable it is, and how much it is worth more than money in every way. I wanted his memory to be around intangible acts of kindness.”

To this end, she created her website,, and a Facebook page that documents her cycling progress.

She tries not to let a single day go by without committing her own act of kindness because “kindness breeds kindness” and inspires future generations to support one another in the community.


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The extraordinary acts of kindness by Scotland’s snow angels

From a small army of Good Samaritans who helped transport doctors, nurses and carers through Scotland’s snowbound streets to the businesses which went the extra mile and offered free food to struggling families, the torrid weather conditions to hit the country in recent days has brought out the best in people.

At a time when most people wish to hunker down in the safety and comfort of their own home, hundreds of Scots have braced the freezing temperatures to help those in need, whether it has been providing a lift to patients facing a gruelling walk to hospital appointments, or sending out a tractor to ensure that one bride has a white wedding to remember.

The selfless deeds of Scotland’s so-called “snow angels” span every part of the country, from busy city centres to remote villages left cut off by the very worst of the wintry squalls. Here are some of the extaordinary acts of kindness by ordinary people.

Members of Blood Bikes Scotland, a team of volunteer motorcyclists who in good weather devote time to delivering small urgent items such as blood samples and donor baby milk, swapped two wheels for four.

During the worst of weather, some of the volunteers used 4×4 vehicles to transport staff, medical equipment, and vital supplies to hospitals in and around Edinburgh.

Alexis Aitchison from Edinburgh has been going out every night with blankets, food, and even dog coats and dog food, to help those people sleeping rough in Edinburgh as well as their pets.

Armed with a backpack and wearing a high visibility vest over her winter jacket, Ms Aitchison has been a welcome sight in the capital for those struggling in the freezing conditions, walking through Rose Street, George Street, Princes Street, Grassmarket, Lothian Road, and the Royal Mile.

Volunteers at the Glasgow adoption centre of Cats Protection, one of the country’s leading animal welfare charities, did not stop responding to calls of cats in distress. Several of the team waded through knee-deep snow drifts, pictured below, in the city to attend to calls from members of the public alerting them to animals that appeared to be in suffering in the freezing weather.

Kerry and Pete Thomson, who own a cattle and sheep farm in West Linton, put their tractor to good use during the heavy snowfalls by clearing key roads and routes in and out of the Borders village.

Ms Thomson, who also made homemade bread for her neighbours, said: “Pretty much the only other people we saw out were in tractors, out helping.”

Jamie Dickie, from Motherwell, used his Volkswagen Touareg 4×4 to help transport NHS staff and patients all over Glasgow free of charge during the amber weather warning.

Mr Dickie made a public post on Facebook advertising his availability, with friends of friends putting him in touch with health workers and those people with appointments.

He said: “Everyone I’ve picked up has been so thankful and have tried to offer me money but I refused, just want to make sure they get home or wherever they are going safely.”

Even when the weather was at its worst, Amanda Levitt, a carer in Dunbar, made sure she was there for those in need, working two successive 15-hour days.

Her kindness was repaid when, at the end of her shift late on Thursday evening, two strangers helped push her car after it became stuck in snowdrifts.

Scott Morrice, an engineer with the electricity firm, SP Energy Networks, put his company 4×4 truck to good use by giving Dr John Mackay, an A&E medic from Livingston, a lift in time for his night shift at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert.

The kindness of the firm’s staff even extended to one of Mr Morrice’s colleagues, Alastair McNie, picking up Dr Mackay at the end of his shift to take him home.

Joe Walker, who runs a flooring firm on Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road, used his 4×4 to give NHS staff lifts to and from hospital, as well as making deliveries of food and medicine to vulnerable people.

Mr Walker drove up and down Dumbarton Road, asking people if they needed help, with his first act driving a nurse to Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, saving her a four mile walk.

Staff from Amazing Days, pictured top left, a Glasgow-based firm which runs team building days, used their fleet of 4x4s to help doctors, nurses, and carers get to work in the freezing weather.

Ross McKinnon, the firm’s director, said they have been working “flat out” after receiving more than 1,000 messages on social media.

Julie Hartley, an early years practitioner at Kelvinside Academy in the west end of Glasgow, braved the snowy weather to visit the nursery even though it and the school it is part of were among hundreds cross the country that were closed.

The reason was not to prepare for the reopening of the class next week, but to make sure that Fluffy, the nursery’s pet lizard, was fed and watered.

As the maid of honour to her sister, Fiona, on her big day, Diane McLeod from Auchengray near Lanark woke up yesterday in a panic, realising that the bad weather meant she would struggle to get her dress to her in time for the nuptials taking place today.

After seeing her heartfelt plea on Facebook, South Lanarkshire Council sent a tractor and a van in convoy in to pick up the dress and take it to Fiona in Hamilton, ensuring she will have a white wedding to remember.

Geraldine Marsh, an associate chief nurse at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, swapped her uniform for pyjamas late Thursday, sleeping in the hospital overnight to make sure she could make her shift the next day, pictured left. Several members of nursing staff followed suit, posting images on social media of them in their nightwear enjoying a well-earned hot beverage.

Mikkel Ostberg, a tattoo artist from Livingston, helped to transport NHS staff across West Lothian, Edinburgh and Fife after the snow stuck – but found himself in trouble after his gear box got jammed.

Another good samaritan, Steve Fairley, who runs Woodside Garage in Aberdour, fixed Mr Ostberg’s car for free, allowing him to get back on the road.

Joe Beaver, a friend of care worker, Elaine McNeill, who died tragically after collapsing in the snow on Wednesday while walking to work in the Milton area of Glasgow, has launched a fundraising drive for her family.

As of yesterday evening, friends and former colleagues of Ms McNeill, who worked for Cordia, helped to pledge more than £3,000.

Land Rover owner Sheila Baxendale offered free lifts to NHS staff trying to get to hospital, as well as promising to take home workers who had no other form of transport available.

The 40-year-old from Carntyne said she had been treated in hospital four years ago after contracting meningitis, and described her good deed as a way of paying back the care showed to her by the NHS.

Staff at the First Bus depot in Larbert lent a helping hand to Michael Jones and Kirsty McKean, who are due to get married today. With the snowy weather cutting them off, the couple panicked after realising they would not able to buy vital last-minute supplies.

But the First workers, responding to a social media appeal, took snow shovels and dug the couple’s car out from a snowdrift, allowing them to get on their way and look forward to the wedding..

Chris McColl, a kind-hearted 37-year-old from Alexandria, lent a helping hand to elderly residents in the West Dunbartonshire town by going on shopping runs to help those stuck at home.

Mr McColl bought the likes of bread and milk as well as pre-paid utility cards for those unable to leave their home due to the wintry weather.

In Fife, Jim Kennedy, an engineer with SP Energy Networks, used his 4×4 to give a timely lift to two women called Frances and Jackie, both of whom work as midwives, pictured left.

Mr Kennedy drove the women to Pitteuchar medical centre in Glenrothes so they could attend vital clinics.

While there have been reports of some shops hiking up prices for food amid shortages, one firm has been widely praised for making sure those in need do not go with empty stomachs.

Allied Bakeries in the Lambhill area of north Glasgow, has distributed more than 1,000 loaves of bread to local people over the past three days, with each customer receiving two free loaves as well as fruit scones and pancakes.


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Gesture of kindness on Mother’s Day brings people to tears

Small bunches of flowers were left in the street of a devon town this weekend by a stranger who wanted all children to be able to treat their mums on Mother’s day – even if they don’t have money.

People say they were brought to tears by the simple gesture on the streets of Tavistock.

Local woman Alui spotted the crate of daffodils and snapped a picture which she shared online, quickly gaining a huge reaction from people touched by the gesture.

The mum of two, who has asked to remain anonymous, told Mirror Online : “I saw it as I was walking along the main street in Tavistock and just thought it was the nicest thing I had seen all day!

“I think I know who the person is who probably left them there – he’s a local man, you know, a sort of hippie character.

“I see him around busking and doing odd jobs, and sometimes he’s around selling daffodils. I went to pick up a coffee and saw lots of people looking at the flowers. It was lovely.
Flowers left for mums in Tavistock (Image: Ali)

“I didn’t expect such a big reaction – my phone hasn’t stopped.”

Lots of people have been responding to the photograph, calling the gesture “lovely”, “thoughtful”, and a “beautiful” act of kindness. One woman even said she was moved to tears by the image.

A woman called Lynn commented: “What a wonderful thing to do. That would cheer up anybody’s Mother’s Day .”

Ali said she didn’t pick up a bunch herself, but by the time she’d finished her coffee yesterday afternoon, all the daffodils had gone – presumably taken by youngsters who wanted to treat their mums but who didn’t have much cash to do so.

Ali added: “I’m going to get my mum some flowers today. My daughter is in Rome at the moment, but she did text my son to remind him it was Mother’s Day, and he brought me breakfast in bed, so that was nice.”


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Avalanche of kindness

It’s been a busy winter for the Cereal Heroes, a growing group of boys, all Pleasant Street School students, who were moved to help stock a local food pantry that was running low on breakfast staples right before Christmas.

One good turn begets another, they soon found. That first gesture was performed by two friends and one of their moms.

Those two were soon joined by another two friends, and the foursome started spending snow days shoveling driveways to raise funds for a school program that sends needy children home with food for the weekend.

In just a few months, the Cereal Heroes group has now swelled to ten members – all boys, all students in either fourth or fifth grade – who have found that they can make a real difference in the lives of people around them.

The Cereal Heroes are led by moms Elizabeth Brothers and Andrea Condodemetraky. The membership fee is two boxes of cereal, and there’s only one rule: Always Be Kind.
Kindness is contagious, the Heroes have learned.

When Bank of New Hampshire learned about the group, the bank donated $500 to the Pleasant Street School PAWS program, which makes sure kids don’t go hungry when they’re not in school. That was enough to fund the program through the end of the school year.

But the Heroes weren’t ready to hang up their shovels. With the PAWS program taken care of for now, they made sure every public school in Laconia had a hearty stock of breakfast bars. They have also made supply runs to a food pantry run by a city church, and to a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Soon, more kids wanted to get in on the good deeds. For the most recent shoveling event, ten boys spent the cold, windy day clearing driveways. Many of the clients arranged for the shoveling service via the group’s Facebook page, and paid to have the Heroes clear the driveway for someone else.

The group raised nearly $250 that day.

“It was brutal. It was cold, windy,” said Condodemetraky. “The boys were very tired but very happy that the donations were coming in.”
One of the newer recruits is Nathan Hobby, a fifth-grader, who said the money was hard-earned.

“We shoveled a lot of driveways,” he said. “It was really cold and windy, but you’ve just got to see it through. It was a bit hard, I was a bit tired after it all, and so were all my friends.”

To keep himself motivated, he said that he focused on the people they were helping, and of the other Heroes that were all working together.

“I knew that the people, they had to get out of their driveways somehow. I knew that my friends were all feeling the same thing.”

When they finally finished shoveling and returned to the Condodemetraky home for snacks, Brothers asked the boys to think of how they might use their proceeds from the day. Soon, conversation settled around Max Gagnon, a kindergartner at Pleasant Street who has been battling leukemia for a year and a half.

Max’s dad, Mike, told Condodemetraky that their family has already benefited from an outpouring of support from the community, and suggested that the Heroes could do something to help other patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

On Tuesday, the Heroes surprised Gagnon with 17 “comfort bundles” – fleece blankets, coloring books and crayons – for him to take with him to his next treatment, and pass out to other young patients.

“I wanted to join the Cereal Heroes because I wanted to help people in the community. I just really wanted to help people and be kind and show people that younger people can still make a difference,” said Hobby.

The day of shoveling wasn’t easy, but he said seeing Gagnon and thinking about the result of the work made it worthwhile.

“That felt amazing, to give Max the blankets and know that he was going to take them to the hospital and give them to his friends, that felt like the best thing in the world, to think of the smiling faces of those children,” said Hobby.

Condodemetraky said that the group is hoping to grow further, but has to figure out how to handle the logistics. Ten boys is already testing the limits of her home as a headquarters, and safely shepherding that many shovelers on a snowy day is challenging. But seeing the pride and sense of purpose in the young Heroes drives her to figure out the next step.

“My hope is that we can do one amazing thing per quarter, as well as doing things to keep the money coming in,” she said. “Now we move on to the next project. With this group, there’s no telling what we can do next.

“What started off as a snowy day idea has turned into an avalanche of kindness. It has been amazing to see how much of a difference we have made in other people’s lives … It’s pretty cool, with all the stuff going on in the world, it’s nice to know that we can look out for the people in our own backyards and make a difference in Laconia.”


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Spread Goodness Day brings acts of kindness from all over

Anna Dravland of Travel Marquette came up with the idea to make a day dedicated towards acts of kindness. She coined it “Spread Goodness Day,” and Friday was that day.

Goodness can come in all shapes and sizes.

“If I spread goodness then other people will want to do it, and then everybody will spread goodness,” says Amelie Demart, a student at Sandy Knoll Elementary School.

Students at Sandy Knoll Elementary helped in a big way with a project called “Change for Change,” where students raised money to give to the Room at the Inn Warming Center.

“I had a chance to speak with the students last week and I talked with the whole school about the power of one and the power of many, because Room at the Inn started because of the power of one – one person who had an idea, and she was able to get other people to join her and they became the power of many. So when I talked to the students last week, it was about the idea that one great idea, started with one person, can become so much larger because so many people join in,” says Doug Russell, Room at the Inn Executive Director.

“So it was that idea with the students that if one person collects change, it might only be a couple dollars, well how big is that? But when you have a whole school collecting change, it becomes a check for $365 and it’s more than that because there’s more coming in. So the idea that students would collectively get involved in a project like this to benefit Room at the Inn and our guests is absolutely tremendous.

It was just a joy to be part of it, to come back today and be able to speak with the students and help them understand that this is what’s possible when people work together.”

Sandy Knoll Explorers also made placemats for the guests at Room at the Inn, and posted Spread Goodness artwork throughout the school as well.

“These kids in these classes really, really took it to heart to take these projects on, and they went and did so many different things that I knew I had to come and thank them in person and just soak up their goodness,” explains Anna Dravland, founder of Spread Goodness Day.

As a thank you, Anna brought Spread Goodness sunglasses for all the students at Sandy Knoll.

One of Anna’s friends, Sarah, wanted to help make an impact as well, and decided to give back to teachers in Negaunee.

“I really didn’t want to focus our efforts on people having to send money with us to give a donation or proceeds to another cause, so I decided we would recognize all of the staff within the Negaunee school system with a fresh rose as a way to just say thanks for being here and we appreciate you guys – that way we could show the kids and the staff kindness matters, thoughtfulness matters and our teachers are very important to our community,” says Sarah Tullila, Anna’s friend and a wedding planner in Marquette.

“When one person does something good, then multiplied by 100 or 1,000 or 1,000,000, it’s tangible. You can feel it. There’s thousands of people participating in Marquette County and the state and beyond today, and we can all feel it,” says Dravland with a huge smile.


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Waitress’s Act of Kindness Rewarded With Proclamation, Scholarship

There are acts of kindness happening everywhere, but they aren’t always witnessed and shared.

What is better than witnessing an act of kindness? Sharing it. What is better still? Seeing the person acknowledged for her kindness.

This story started when Laura Wolf saw a waitress in a La Marque, Texas Waffle House cutting up food for an older customer who was having trouble.

Wolf posted the photo on Facebook, where it went viral, with over 100,000 reactions and 50,000 shares as of the time of this publication.

In the Facebook post, Wolf said: “I don’t know her name but I heard this elderly man tell her his hands don’t work too good. He was also on oxygen and struggling to breathe. Without hesitation, she took his plate and began cutting up his ham.

“This may seem small but to him, I’m sure it was huge. I’m thankful to have seen this act of kindness and caring at the start of my day while everything in this world seems so negative. If we could all be like this waitress and take time to offer a helping hand.”

La Marque city officials saw the post and decided the waitress needed to know how much her kindness mattered.

“City of La Marque is proud to have this thoughtful young woman working in our city and we’d like to acknowledge and honor her,” city spokeswoman Colleen Merritt said in a statement. “La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking is passionate about our community’s youth and wants to encourage her dreams of attending college.”

To honor Evoni Williams, the 18-year-old waitress who went out of her way to help that ailing customer, the LaMarque City Council proclaimed March 8, 2018, Evoni “Nini” Williams Day, Click2Houston reported.

LaMarque Mayor Bobby Hocking visited Ms. Williams at the Waffle House where she works to read the proclamation to her.

Williams is working at the Waffle House to save money for college. She had planned to go to Texas Southern University.

Those plans seem sure to be realized now that Texas Southern University has given Williams a $16,000 scholarship for her kindness.

A university representative told Click2Houston, “Your act of kindness is exactly the kind of student we want at Texas Southern University.”

Evoni Williams started crying when a university representative gave her the check.

She said that what she did was nothing special.

“That’s just me,” Williams told Click2Houston. “It came from the heart. I would do it any other time, not just this time.”


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How a random act of kindness in Bristol became a national movement to help the homeless

The mission was a simple one – tie scarves, gloves and hats to anything you could find in the city centre.

Spreading from the Harbourside through St Nick’s and into Broadmead, lamp posts, railings and trees were not spared. Homeless people and rough sleepers or anyone in need were encouraged to help themselves to it.

Each came with a tag of encouragement.

One read: “If you find yourself stuck out in the cold, please take me and keep warm.”

Another read: “Feel free to take me. Stay warm braveheart.”

They have become a common sight in Bristol over the last few years. The project, called I Am Not Lost, was started here in February 2016 by a group of volunteers called Keep Bristol Warm. And it has since spread everywhere. Cities, towns and villages all around Britain – from Cornwall to Glasgow – responded to the call.

Gavyn Emery, from Keep Bristol Warm, was one of the pioneers.

He said: “We saw an article from the USA a couple of years ago with an act of kindness and we thought we would do the same here with I Am Not Lost.

“Our first year was in February 2016, and we’ve had a very good turn out every year.”

The idea soon took hold. When the group first started, there were about 50 to 60 volunteers pounding the pavement and tying scarves around the street furniture.
I Am Not Lost grew and grew (Image: Gav Emery)

But as temperatures plummeted and the snow caked over large sections of the country last week, hundreds of people were inspired to take up the idea.

Several cities and towns rallied to the cause – Glasgow, Weymouth, Cambridge, Bath, Wrexham, Darlington, Swindon, and of course, Bristol.

Groups in Preston coloured their frozen city centre with hats and scarves, while volunteers in Cornwall did the same.

In Manchester, fashion retailer Boohoo placed hats on bollards with labels I Am Not Lost, while in Birmingham, a café took it upon themselves to hang the accessories around their city centre.

“We have noticed the many random acts of I Am Not Lost happening everywhere,” Gavyn added.

“I’m overwhelmed. It’s incredible to see the country care. It’s even still going on now, with people sharing their photos and keeping the I Am Not Lost tag going.

“It’s such a simple thing to do, and hopefully, it will generate a conversation between the public about this huge issue we have at our front doors.”
Taunton and Manchester picked up the call

In Bristol, homelessness has grown exponentially. Rough sleeping has risen by more than 800 per cent in seven years, with the housing crisis deepening and austerity measures hitting hard.

And while those figures are depressing, it has led to a swell of support and goodwill in our city.

“So much more can be done,” Gavyn said. “We have such a housing crisis and so many places that are empty can be adapted for those on our streets.”

“Bristol has a great community spirit, with so many great groups helping. But things like mental illness is something that needs to be looked at and approached.

“We need to get humans off our streets and into accommodation now, not tomorrow.”

From seasoned charities to small community groups and individual acts of kindness, there has been wave after wave of compassion and understanding.

There are many ways to help the homeless: volunteering with a charity, going on a food run with one of the many groups out there, helping to fit a container in Bedminster as an emergency home or just stopping to chat to someone sitting on street.

It is easy to despise the man or woman sleeping in the stairwell or in front of a shop and more difficult to try and do something to help. But compassionate groups of people like Keep Bristol Warm are showing people how they can.


Read the full story here


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