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A Summer of Kindness

Avon Middle School Student Encourages the Community to Spread Kindness

Writer  /  Christy Heitger-Ewing

It came as no surprise to Sylvia Lane when her 12-year-old son, Maddix, informed her that he had thought of a special summer project. His mission? To spread kindness, love and happiness to members of the Avon community.

He started by creating cards that impart positive messages and words of affirmation. For example, he drew a picture of a diamond and included the words, “You shine bright like a diamond. Please pass the sparkle on.” He then demonstrates some random act of kindness to a friend, neighbor or total stranger, then hands them the card to encourage the recipient to pay it forward.

“It makes me feel good inside when I give to others,” Maddix says.

But he wanted to extend the goodness beyond just himself, so he launched the Summer Kindness Challenge, hoping to inspire others in the community to take part as well.

His kind acts vary from day to day, but examples include distributing homemade cookies and cupcakes, taping quarters to vending machines and grocery carts, and setting up a free lemonade stand at the front of his neighborhood during the hottest day of the year.

“We’ll be out running errands that any kid dreads, but instead of complaining Maddix spends the time brainstorming ideas for how to make people smile,” Sylvia says. “We’ll be in a parking lot, Maddix will see a mom with a bunch of little kids, and he’ll ask if he can go over and lend a hand.”

Sylvia notes that often when nice things happen to adults, they tend to get busy with life and forget to pass on the good vibes. The card acts as a tangible reminder to do something kind for someone else just as something kind was done for them.

Maddix thought the Summer Kindness Challenge was a good idea because he says that the holidays are already covered.

“In December people donate to toy drives and charities, but why can’t it be like that throughout the year?” he asks.

Maddix decided the change could start with him. He would do something nice and invite others in the community to follow suit. To track the progress of his campaign, he asks those who participate to post to social media with the hashtag #SummerKindnessChallenge.

“This is an opportunity to show off all the good things our community members are doing,” Sylvia says.

The whole purpose of the Kindness Campaign is to get folks to become more aware of spreading joy and compassion. And what’s more is that any age, race and religion can participate in this project — there’s no right or wrong way to be kind.

“Kindness is free,” Maddix says. “You can make someone’s day simply by smiling, waving or holding open a door.”

Maddix, who just began seventh grade at Avon Middle School North, has always had an empathetic heart and giving spirit.

“Ever since he was a little boy, if he saw a lone kid on the playground, he would invite them to play with him,” Sylvia says. “He’s so positive and friendly.”

Each night, the family gathers round the dinner table to engage in a daily ritual called, “The Happy and the Crappy” where everyone communicates something good and something bad about their day. Maddix, whose perspective always bends toward the positive, inevitably brings levity to the meal.

“Even with the crappy, he finds a way to spin it into a positive,” Sylvia says. “He just shines.”

Bright like a diamond.

About Christy Heitger-Ewing

Christy Heitger-Ewing is an award-winning writer and columnist who writes human interest stories for national, regional, and local magazines. She is also the author of the book “Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat” (www.cabinglory.com).

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