It is very hard to believe, but yes, it has been one whole year since the Superheroes of Kindness first took flight! It was a snowy December day that the capes of kindness first found themselves wrapped gently around kind-hearted children, and slowly made the trek to the Food Bank delivering 377 pounds of food collected by these preschool heroes. It seemed only fitting to celebrate by delivering food collected again this year to our neighbor, Missoula’s Food Bank. But I tell you, this was no ordinary food drive. In fact, it was not just a Superhero of Kindness food drive. This was a ‘let’s all come together and help out our community’ food drive. What a proud moment for these little bodies that hold such giant hearts and leave such deeply impacted footprints.
This food drive started like most other child-run food drives – coloring! Yes, while the four year olds went off to their last gymnastics lesson, the three year olds and kindergarteners decorated four very large pieces of paper to be used as box covers. The next day, food started coming in. One morning, some of the children walked down to the neighborhood grocery store with a goal of each child choosing one item to bring back for their box. Of course, after selecting many healthy food items, we had to throw in a cake and frosting “for if they need something yummy” (one of the children told me that.) Last Friday, one group wrote a note to the school’s neighbors, explaining what we were doing and asking for them to leave food out to be collected and added to our donation. The children had so much fun taking turns putting our letter into mailboxes (something that until that moment we hadn’t realized they do not do that often.) Monday morning, the same children took off with a wagon, collecting five brown grocery bags full of food! This was extra special as we were able to include a Missoula Community School alumni family in our drive! And I tell you, when the wagon was getting heavy a couple of those three year olds really showed their strength and gave some good all out pushes on the back of the wagon. Another group sorted the food, knowing this is something the food bank volunteers and employees have to do and hoping to spare them of the work (and getting a good sorting and comparing activity out of it.) When all was said and done, we filled five wagons full of food to be donated.
This year we decided to do something a little bit different with our delivery. On Monday, two groups took apples that were left over from last week’s pizza day and turned them into a delicious treat to give to the Food Bank employees and volunteers. The children used plastic knives and butter knives to cut the apples. (“This is cool!” one exclaimed, of course not frequently able to use a knife at this age.) Pretty soon, with the help of a dash of this and a sprinkle of that, those left over apples turned into Apple Crisp. This yummy treat was warmed in the oven this morning and dished out for our neighbor heros to enjoy.
The sight of the whole school walking our donation down the couple blocks brought me to tears, twice. (Ok, maybe three times.) I could not help but remember last year. One classroom delivered the food, 19 children. The original band of Superheroes was seven of those students. One class, seven capes, seven capes sewed with love from one fabulous mom, Terry. Fast forward one year. The same walk is made. This time the entire school is involved, approximately 50 children. Each one of them doning a cape of kindness, and of course a big smile. Plus, this is the second all school mission in a little over a month! To be honest, I am tearing up for a fourth time right now just thinking about it. We knew this drive was a success even if we did not beat last year’s weight. Although I will say, as the number hit 377, and then kept crawling up all the way to 493, I thought I was going to pop out of my skin. When we got back to school and a fellow teacher pointed out our box of glass items (jams and such) did not get weighed and we realized we had hit 500, well, let’s just say I could have run down the street hugging anyone I saw. Unbelievable! Not to mention watching 50 children grabbing food from five wagons, putting them into one big bin, and doing so with manners and no pushing or shoving, I was speechless. These children really are Superheroes of Kindness all the way to their cores.
When this idea first started taking shape, this crazy idea that we could take children out in capes and show kindness with the hopes of shining a light on all that is good in these little beings, we knew it would be something that would become part of our school’s traditions. We knew it had a pure heart that would be able to tap into the goodness and compassion in those we came in contact with. I guess we just had no clue how many people we would be coming into contact with! We truly had no idea that we would have friends spanning the globe. And now, to have friends working with us all the way in Missouri, teaming up to show what happens when you let kindness and compassion play the role of front runner, well, I just cannot explain how warm all of this makes my heart or how overly optimistic it makes me of our future. Of these children’s futures.
Friends, if you feel like celebrating with us, here is how you can. Go out today with a goal of making someone smile. Tap into that seed of kindness in someone else, and let them experience what that feels like. Thank you so very much for a great first year – we hope to see you back here next year when we celebrate birthday number 2! (Really, we hope to see you back here many times before then, as well!)
As a little something special, we have made a video photo album of some highlights from our first year, both picture highlights and letters/comments received highlights. We hope you enjoy it!
The Superheroes of Kindness
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It is a very happy day for the Superheroes of Kindness. Yesterday, the newest band of superheroes received their capes. Today, they go on their first mission. And what a fine first mission it will be – thanking the kind woman who donated them fabric for capes!
Their superhero base in Nevada, Missouri, this preschool class has taken on the call to spread kindness and compassion thanks to the heart found at the Nevada Community Center, the desire and hard work of the Center’s Supervisor, Phil Bures, to see what it is really like to take a bunch of young caped kind-doers out into the community to not only spread kindness but make a difference, and the interest of one teacher, Mrs. Megan, to let her class hit the streets with smiles. You can them outhere. Having had a sneak peak at some of their plans, all I can say is watch out!
We are very excited to have this cohort of kind kids join us in making a positive difference, one act of kindness at a time. Welcome aboard, our kind-hearted friends!
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” (Scott Adams)
A very exciting thing happened during world kindness week. For the first time, every student at the Missoula Community School embarked on missions at the same time. Three missions were set and completed, many more smiles were found and displayed. Approximately 50 capes of kindness hit the streets. It was funny the couple days following because I heard a few people talk about superhero sitings around town. One person stated, “I saw the superheroes in action! Well, I assumed they were the superheroes of kindness because I saw a bunch of children walking across the bridge wearing capes. I didn’t know where you were going, but I couldn’t help but smile.” These missions were not only exciting because everyone participated, but for a couple teachers this was their first mission, and for others it was the first mission they took the lead. A unique experience was truly had by all.
Mission 1 – One group of children took it upon themselves to revisit Flor Haven, the assisted living home in which the superheroes visited for their second mission. This home holds a special place in one teacher’s heart. She was able to acquire a list of supplies they need, and many parents and children donated the supplies. On the day of the mission, this group took off with a wagon full of pillows, coffee, pencils, you name it, and of course some handmade flowers. They flew down the streets of Missoula to Flor Haven, where they were able to deliver the supplies, the flowers, and of course smiles.
Mission 2 – A second group of children caped up and flew down the street to the Senior Citizen Center, where they surprised some lunch goers with homemade flowers.
Mission 3 – This has become my favorite mission to date by far. There was something so touching about this moment and when I think back to being there I cannot help but feel warm and smile. Two classrooms combined with a goal of delivering flowers to Clark Fork Riverside Manor, a manor found over a nearby bridge. The children spent the morning making tissue flowers and recycled egg carton flowers. Approximately 40-45 flowers bloomed that morning. It was a brisk morning, so the children first decked out in their winter gear and then happily put their capes on. (One girl was very afraid the cape would go under the jacket and she would not be able to fly. We told her that superheroes are good problem solvers and we will find a solution.) This was quite the treck – down to the river trail, over a small portion of the trail, and over the bridge – so the smallest of children got to take turns riding in a wagon. (This is why there are no pictures this round, our hands were full helping transport our fearless superheroes!) It was a beautiful, sunny, make your cheeks and nose pink kind of walk.
When we arrived, it was amazing. The children had only walked into the lunch room in which some of the residents were waiting, and the residents all stood up with smiles and applauded! We had not done a thing except show that we care by visiting. I had to stop for a moment and let a few tears fill my eyes. This is why we have superheroes of kindness. Well, it did not take long after the children were told to pass out their flowers to fill each hand with a little gem. We asked the residents to raise their hands if they did not get a flower, and instead they jumped up while others pointed to the couple of flowerless companions. The number of ‘thank you’s’ the children heard, well, it made me start wanting to thank everyone around me. You could tell the residents did not want us to leave, so we decided to sing them some songs. The children used their best singing voices to sing three school favorites – My Home’s in Montana, The More We Get Together (in which many residents sang with us), and of course our closing circle song, Love Grows.
I just could not bear to have us leave yet. So I did something risky and as of yet unheard of. Suddenly, I started waving the children to the residents, telling them to find someone to give a hug or high five to. Oh my goodness, was this spectacular! As soon as I said it, I thought the children would be hesitant, but no! They just bolted out and started giving hugs and high fives. And the residents bolted out of their seats to return the gift! My favorite was one woman who was sitting in the back who bolted out of her seat, locked her eyes on one boy, weaved in and out of hugs and high fives, until she reached this boy and gently asked him if she could hug him.
It finally became time to leave. Some of the residents followed us out. Many asked (several times) for us to return. Everyone left, and was left, with a big ol’ grin. I do believe the superheroes are going to visit these friends monthly, starting with hopefully a joint lunch next month.
It was fun hearing and seeing some of the things others did for world kindness week. I heard of one family who was going to deliver eggs from their chickens to their neighbors. Another family was going to bake treats to the teachers at her children’s school. For the MCS missions, many children lent extra capes to friends so that everyone could suit up. I was even the recipient of an act of kindness – a fellow teacher brought me a cup of coffee the morning of a training I was putting on (and oh, was that the best cup of coffee, filled with love and thoughtfulness.)
We do hope that you all enjoyed a fruitful world kindness week, and that you continue finding ways throughout your days to bring a smile to someone’s face. This is a great time of year to do so, it can be as easy as showing gratitude to one of the many things or people you are thankful for.
My daughter and I started our celebration of World Kindness Week early. Here is our act of kindness from yesterday. Yes, it really is this easy!
When getting ready to leave the grocery store yesterday, we went to a woman we frequent. This is the woman who a few months ago my daughter whispered to me, “Wow mama, she is beautiful.” Upon my suggestion that she tell her, my daughter did, and just may have made this lady blush a bit. Back to yesterday. My daughter comes up to me in the same fashion as before and whispers, “Mama, she is my favorite grocery buyer of all.” Once again, I suggested she maybe tell the woman. My daughter said it quietly and was not heard. She repeated it a bit louder, but was not heard. Finally, she said, “Excuse me,” and when the woman heard her and stopped, my little lady said, “You are my favorite grocery girl of all.” The woman again blushed, thanked my daughter, and said, “And you also think I am beautiful.” Pretty sure taking a moment to show appreciation to this woman made her day.
As fall approaches, the Superheroes of Kindness have taken it upon themselves to distribute some of the beautiful flowers that have grown in the school’s garden before these flowers meet the cool frost that is making its way. These sunflowers have made us so happy (I know each morning my daughter and I have to use the front door, no matter what, just so we can look at these flowers and gather their story – has a deer taken some bites, did one get knocked over by an exuberant child, you know, a flower’s tale.) For one of the sunflower missions we were joined by my teacher and friend, Michael, who ventured all the way from New Hampshire to join the ranks of Superhero of Kindness. It was so wonderful to share a morning of kindness with you, Michael!
For our first journey, we travelled across the street to say hi to our neighbors. Each child cut about three flowers from their stem. Now, this is a difficult task as cutting is a skill we are building and stems can be kind of thick and hard to cut. But with the determination brought on by being able to cut and give away flowers, the children used those scissors like pros. We stapled a little note around the stems which said, “Have a good day! From your neighbors, the Superheroes of Kindness.” And with that, we were on our way.
We crossed the ever busy 5th Street, waving a quick thank you to the cars that saw the invisible ‘Superhero Crossing’ sign. The children showed no hesitation to give away this beautiful treasure they were holding. We walked from door to door, knocking, and I had to do all I could to keep all the children from happily giving their flower to the first couple of doors. Most people were not home, so we left the surprise on their outdoor chairs and mailbox’s. But at our last stop, a gentleman slowly answered the door. He seemed very unsure of a bunch of children in capes knocking on his door midmorning. But as the last child smiled and handed him their flower, and said, “This is for you,” the gentleman grew a huge grin, and started chatting the children up. Mission give flowers to bring smiles accomplished.
The next week we performed a similar mission, but this time we walked the couple of blocks to the Food Bank. We have been there before to donate and to sort food. But this time we were here to give smiles. This was a long walk for the children, the few blocks being the longest one we had made as a class this year. But it also was this group’s first time of flying. Boy, do those children know how to fly!
There was an interesting transformation as we made our way into the Food Bank and began distributing flowers. The patrons who were sitting, waiting for their turn, looked as most people do when they are sitting and waiting – not unhappy but for sure not excited. When they saw a group of (unannounced) children in capes walk in, I must say some faces became a bit questioning and definitely less than excited. Most people’s experience with a group of children that age is one in which the children are not as quiet, do not show as much control over their body, and one in which the children show some of the natural egocentricness that is natural at this age. But these children quietly walked in, looked at me, and started distributing flowers. They walked up to the patrons, handed a flower with a smile and sometimes a, “This is for you.” How quickly those faces transformed into smiles, and how quickly life filled that entry way. People started talking to each other, and talking to the children. A couple of people pointed out others who needed flowers. I think I heard every single recipient say, “Thank you!” I couldn’t help but feel taken over by the positive energy that filled that small entry way, and if I hadn’t of been needing to herd seven three year olds I do believe I would have gone through that line and hugged each and every one of those people.
As we were walking to the Food Bank, one of the children asked which flower was for them. I answered the child by telling her that these flowers are for giving away, but that when we returned we could cut another flower just for us to take home. Michael said, “Isn’t that the essence of kindness? The kindness you put out there will ripple out but eventually makes its way back to you.” That has made me smile ever since because yes, that is true. And have I ever been feeling the ripples continuing out and a few returning back to me.
Our wonderful friend, Sarah, enjoyed taking pictures of these adventures, so we have put them together for you to view. Enjoy!
The school year may have just begun, but the Superheroes of Kindness have already embarked on their first mission. The spirit of kindness has been high, even without doning capes. Pre-Kindergarten students happily help the youngest three year olds find the bathroom when they are themselves working their way down the hall. Children in the four year old groups are waving and hugging former teachers and old friends. New three year olds are happily sharing swings and shovels on the playground. There is a definite air of kindness.
This last week the teachers at Missoula Community School returned to their classrooms. Students don’t officially start until Monday, but these teachers with their big dreams for the year and bigger hearts spent countless hours preparing their classrooms and then spending time with individual students as each child came one by one to see what their classroom looks like and get a feel for the cheerful, dedicated adult that will care for them for months to come.
Now, I know many of you keep up with this blog to see what these cute children with endless supplies of kindness are doing. But today, I am going to tell you my story; a story about a random act of kindness inspired by the Superheroes of Kindess. As the new school year has approached, I have done a lot of reflecting on the effect and role of the Superheroes of Kindness in my life. I am excited to see the school as a whole intentionally continue their pursuit of kindness. Teachers have spoken to me of their visions, parents have asked if their child will be able to still participate or begin to participate, and I watched two children discuss their superpowers with one offering his powers to the other and the other graciously saying no thank you because she has her own. The superheroes of kindness are going to grow, and the city of Missoula is hopefully prepared. But I must admit that the original band of superheroes will always hold a special place in my heart, and will forever be a fine example of the perfect embodiment of the pure hearted. And before the new school year officially begins, I wanted to make sure to pay tribute to these children, these souls that forever have changed how I see the possibilities of the future.
The question became, “How?” I started thinking of missions to be kind to the children, missions to be kind to the teachers who will care for the superheroes, missions to care for the community to whom the superheroes gave their heart. It became too much and I realized my focus this week needed to fall in setting up a classroom environment in which the superhero of kindness vision can grow. As I left school today, Friday, I felt good. There was a part of me, though, that felt I had not honored that group of children right, leaving me to wonder what effect that would have on the up and coming superheroes.
I planned a weekend getaway with my daughter. The goal was to really allow for some intentional, focussed, personal time knowing the changes that the business of the week and the (most likely) unrelenting stress of the upcoming school year will bring since I will re-enter the dual role of teacher and student next week. We arrived at our destination later than I had hoped and my lady was tired from being back in full time care this week. We went to dinner and I had low hopes for the outcome as she was tired and hungry, and I had even lower expectations for the swimming that had to happen even though it was way too late but I had promised.
Then it happened. We were blessed with a very kind waitress. The funny part being I cannot pinpoint what was so unique and special about this dining experience, except that our waitress was just truly kind and friendly. Imagine your waitress approaching you to pour your water and you, stressed, exclaiming, “Sorry, but I have to take this gal to the bathroom,” and bolting out of the booth. That is usually the first ingredient for an experience involving shortness and some unfriendliness. But this fine lady excused us and came right back, smile and all. She wasn’t over the top. She was just herself, a truly kind person. Our dining experience allowed my tired four year old and I to enjoy each other, and still fulfill the promise of a swim today, albeit extremely late. In reality, she was probably just being herself and just doing her job. But my daughter and I were at a turning point and the evening could have gone either way, and she helped. I thought of my heroes, and wanted to let her know her kindness had rippled. So as I signed my bill, I wrote her a note, thanking her for her kindness and making our dining experience so enjoyable. Did she see it? I hope so, but do not know. Do I feel now that I have honored those original superheroes and completed my own act of kindness that may ripple itself in its own true, simple form? Yes.
I’m sure that you will have a wonderful school year. You have such a great spirit.
Sara (Retired K teacher)
It is hard to believe, but the day finally came for the Superheroes of Kindness to help stain Sharon’s fence. Even though it was rain that kept us at bay for so long, we were met with a bright (and very hot) sun the afternoon of this mission. This mission was very special to me because there was a child from four different early childhood classrooms, plus a parent with each! Another nice surprise was that when we originally talked about doing this mission, we were just hoping to help someone in our community. But as plans were laid out, we found that the fence we were painting belonged to a woman down my street, which also places her across the street from one of the Superheroes who was helping to paint. Our adventure transformed from helping someone in our community to assisting a neighbor.
Really, the sun was quite hot and it was 5:30pm. So although the children were eager to do a mission, they were not sure initially what they had gotten themselves into. Luckily some juice boxes and bunny crackers appeared helping to ramp up the energy, and it was not too long before all the children were staining. Modeling the importance of helping those in your community, ACE Hardware donated all of the supplies needed. (Thanks ACE!)
It was quite funny looking at the fence at various points. You could tell where adults painted because the stain stretched from top to bottom, and you could tell where children painted because the paint stopped 3/4 of the way up. But boy, were those children focussed when brushing that fence. It was hard not to tear up as I watched families painting together; a dad giving stroking advice to his son, two brothers working side by side, and two other brothers rotating turns without really knowing they were doing that.
As the children finished, parents continued to paint. And two volunteers from Imagine Missoula, Catherine and Penny, worked diligently the whole way through. These two lovely ladies stayed and finished the staining after the children’s energy and attention spans dwindled and parents departed with their children. (Thank you Catherine and Penny for seeing the project to the end!)
I am used to the children being filled with a sense of pride after a mission, talking about what they did and recounting their memories. But this time I have had the joy of talking walks with one of the children by the site of the mission, and it is positively delightful seeing the pride come out through body language and demeanor. My little lady gets slightly more bounce in her step, stands a little taller, and talks in a way that is almost whimsical. She only briefly mentions that we painted the fence, but always suddenly has the urge to go out and do something nice for someone as we walk by. At home, she now talks about Sharon down the street. “Sharon might like to plant flowers by the fence we painted, Mama,” she will say. This is a child that has not only built pride in herself, but in her neighborhood. She has ownership, belonging, and a feeling of playing an important role. What an amazing feeling to have at age four.
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Although the weather postponed the Superhero fence painting extravaganza, that does not mean the superheroes have been sitting idle. Last Wednesday, three Superheroes visited Sharon, whose fence we will stain, and delivered her handmade flowers to say thank you for her patience as we keep our eyes on the weather. We deviated from our norm; usually we use pipe cleaners for stems but on this day we were able to use twigs from part of my apple tree that has not regrown. Marquez, Lucero, and Bridget doned capes (Lucero for the first time, and playing the role of our youngest superhero so far) and walked down the street. We surprised Sharon, arriving an hour earlier than we had thought. But she was glad to see us still. “These are the best kind of flowers,” she said, “because you don’t have to water them and they last forever!” Sharon knew we were coming (we had called to see that she would be home), and had set out Glacier quarters to give each child. The children walked away beaming, not expecting to receive their own thank you gift.
We are excited to say it looks like we have an official date. Next Wednesday, July 6th at 5:30, the superhero children and superhero volunteers will gather to finally stain Sharon’s fence. If you would like to join, just email the superheroes and we will make sure you have the address.
I have been able to follow one Superhero as she caught a case of kindness from a friend and has done her job to spread this contagious need to make others smile. Recently a Superhero, who we shall call Violet, received a card in the mail. The card was unexpected, as were the stickers found inside. Violet grinned the whole day long. The next morning this random act of kindness was the first thing she talked about. Violet woke up and reminded me of her mail (what a treat for a young child to receive mail) and then asked if we could give someone flowers. I expected this young lady to want to take flowers to her friend, Linn, who had sent the card. But no. Violet wanted to take flowers to a teacher from her school, “just because.” She just wanted to let this teacher know, “that she is nice and I miss her.” So we loaded up in the jogger and delivered a flower to Gerri. And the kindness did not stop there. The next several days were filled with Violet choosing (on her own) someone she wanted to make smile. A picture for Grandma. A note for Grandpa. A call to Aunt Katie “because she will be so surprised to hear my voice and she will smile, mama.” In fact, we have three cards to mail today that have been made especially for some friends from school. It really seems as if she cannot stop, and it all started from someone mailing a card to let this little one know someone was thinking of her. My favorite was at the grocery store last weekend, when Violet looked up at the woman helping bag our groceries and said, “Wow, you are just so beautiful.” I watched that woman just glow, knowing her day was just made infinitely better. Maybe even her week. Seeing the power of saying something you are thinking or feeling, feeling a little unsure of saying it but knowing deep down it will make the other person smile.
Watching Violet so happily perform these acts of kindness, some small and some not so small, and watching them ripple over a distance farther than my eye can see, has made me take a deeper look into my day. What can I do in this moment to make someone around me smile? Hmmm, I think I will go answer that right now.
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Love the story about “Violet.” And I love the Superheroes of Kindness! Kudos to you!