There’s no arguing that the coronavirus pandemic has left the world reeling, but it’s also taught us some invaluable lessons about the nature of perseverance, the courage of conviction, and the gift of compassion.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD
Now, more than ever, people young and old are being inspired to make a positive difference in their communities. And few are more dedicated to giving back than North Texas 5th-grader Orion Jean.
This small but mighty public champion is on a mission. His goal: donating 100,000 meals to those in need by Thanksgiving.
“I’m asking everyone to join me in a race to kindness,” Jean told CNN. “This has been a rough year for everybody, and now it’s more important than ever to show support and love to anyone who needs it.”
Right now, people living everywhere from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Dallas, Texas can go to a drop-off point and donate a packed meal containing a bottle of water, a piece of fruit, a tuna pouch or applesauce cup, a granola bar, and—of course—a positive message.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD
The food drive isn’t Jean’s first philanthropic venture. Last summer, he took first place in the Think Kindness National Speech Contest. “The question,” he noted in his winning entry, “is how can kindness change a nation?”
The Chisholm Ridge Elementary schooler’s answer spoke to a simple human truth that struck a sympathetic chord in the hearts of the judges.
“The difficult situations impacting our world has shown us that kindness is more important now than ever before,” he said. “We’ve heard about the families hurting from this pandemic; the communities suffering injustice, and the people being OVER virtual learning… We could really use a big hug right now. And that’s just it. Kindness is like spreading hugs around the world to those who need it and those who might not even know they need it.
“The acts could be something small, but in the end, make a big difference to the person receiving it.”
Jean used the $500 first-prize award to organize a follow-up project, the Race to 500 Toys Drive. After collecting hundreds of donations, the toys were distributed to grateful hospitalized kids in the Dallas area, but that was only the beginning.
For his current humanitarian outing, Jean has injected his “it’s better to give than to receive philosophy” with some true “Everything’s bigger in Texas” attitude. So far, he’s collected over 4,000 meal donations in the “Race to 100,000 Meals.”
Jean has taken on the mantle of role model with equal fervor. Turning on his 1,000-watt positive energy, he’s putting out a call to welcome everyone who wants to become part of his personal crusade to spread compassion around the world, hoping they’ll join him in the race to kindness.
“The best part? Everybody wins!”
(WATCH Orion’s perfect speech on kindness below.)
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