Random Acts of Kindness: 5 Ultra-Nice Things Kids Have Done for One Another

From putting out fires to rallying behind a girl and her tuxedo, these awesome gestures made by students across the country are making us happy.

Students walk with Travis “TJ” Denham in a 5K fund-raiser to raise money for his family and medical needs. (Photo: Courtesy 'Des Moines Register' news video)

May 22, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Suzi Parker is a regular contributor to TakePart. Her work also appears in The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters.

With all the recent not-so-good education news of bullying in the classroom and teacher layoffs, we were ready for some heartwarming stories.

Earlier this week, students at a San Francisco school rallied around a female classmate whose picture was axed from the class yearbook because she wore a tux. She broke a school rule that required girls to wear dresses in their senior portraits. This got us thinking about other recent examples of students banding together to help out one another and their communities. Such acts of kindness are important for social development, says Ferial Pearson, a teacher in Omaha, Neb., and the author of Secret Kindness Agents, a book about students giving back to one another and thereby changing lives.

Here are five recent awesome gestures made by students across the country.

Bow-Ties for the Win

Students at San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School wore bow ties and neckties to school on May 16 as a show of solidarity with Jessica Urbina, whose high school graduation picture was removed from the school yearbook. Urbina chose to wear a tuxedo in her school picture instead of a dress—the required outfit for girls. Urbina’s brother has started a social media campaign under the hashtag #jessicastux to support his younger sister and any other girl at the school who wants to wear something other than a dress in her class photo. The students’ campaigning worked. This week, school administrators apologized and said they would paste Jessica’s portrait into the yearbook that will be distributed to seniors this week.

Cool Couch Discovery Brings Out Kindness

Three college students in New Paltz, N.Y., wondered why the cushions on the $20 couch they bought at a Salvation Army store were so lumpy. Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti, and Lara Russo then made a discovery: The lumps were envelopes stuffed with $41,000 in cash. They considered keeping the money until they found a name on one of the envelopes. With the help of one of their parents, the trio tracked down the elderly owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, and returned the money to her. The woman gave the students $3,000 as a reward. Being honest pays off.

Running for a Classmate’s Heart

In 2013, Iowa high school student Travis “TJ” Denham’s doctors discovered the teenager had a heart murmur and coarctation of the aorta, a common heart defect. The doctors performed open-heart surgery on TJ and believed it to be a success, but his health deteriorated quickly. He could barely open his mouth, and his motor skills failed. TJ now struggles to keep his head up and swallow, although he maintains cognitive abilities. His room is in the basement of his family’s house, and his mother said they want to build a new accessible bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor. Before his illness, Denham attended Valley High School in Des Moines. The school’s student government recently organized a 5K race along with a silent auction and raised nearly $6,000 to help build the additions for TJ’s home.

Even Kindergartners Can Help

Students are never too young to get involved in giving back to their community. Just ask the kindergartners at Roosevelt Elementary School in Melrose, Mass. The students from each of Roosevelt’s kindergarten classes made pictures of images such as animals, hearts, families, sailboats, and birds for a quilt to hang in the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital outside the Special Care Nursery. Parents and teachers helped to quilt their project, and a local store donated fabric for the quilt top.

Students Transform Into Firefighters

Four Swope Middle School students in Reno, Nev., were walking home from school this week when they noticed a house on fire. Wasting no time, the four found a garden hose to help out until firefighters could arrive. A picture of them—Tyler Geraci, Briar Gracey, and Jayden Matcham, all 14, and Kaylee Lamothe, 13—shows the students in their school uniforms, smiling after helping to squelch the blaze. According to firefighters, no one was home at the time, and no one was hurt. The home’s elderly owner, Beverly Marcroft, hailed the students as heroes.

This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.