I used to work in the news business. Every day, a team of people, including myself, had the incredible responsibility of choosing which stories should be covered.
Some stories were so horrible I had a hard time reading them. But I am ashamed to admit that other stories, like those of war and natural disasters were so prevalent that they became ordinary. I often read them without even thinking about how that particular story was affecting another person’s life.
Two years ago, this week, the people of Wadena, Minn., made national news. A tornado devastated their town and surrounding communities. I’m sure in many parts of the country, people hearing about this little village thought, “Another tornado? Oh, that’s too bad.”
But one little boy in our area heard about the tragedy and remembered that this wasn’t just another news story. He knew it was a story about real people. And he did something about it. His mom, Mandy Johnson sent me this letter:
“I will never forget how touched I was by my son’s act of kindness in June 2010. He had just turned 6 and was very upset when he watched the news and saw coverage of the Wadena tornado.
“I had to explain to him how many people had lost their homes and all of their belongings. I also told him that one of the radio stations was raising money for the people of Wadena.
“On his own, he told me that he wanted to give them his ‘money bag’ – a Ziploc bag full of his coins and dollars that he is allowed to use towards the purchase of a toy. The rest of his money goes into a piggy bank, so the ‘money bag’ is pretty special.
“Besides wanting to give away his money, he was really bothered by the fact that some kids in Wadena had lost all of their toys.
“He decided that he was going to make coloring books for those children, so he spent an entire afternoon making a 10-page coloring book with pictures that he drew on his own. He even made a title page and put his name on it as the illustrator.
Then he asked me take him to a store and we made 10 copies. He wasn’t done yet. He picked up 10 boxes of crayons because, in his words, ‘If they lost their coloring books then they lost their crayons, too.’
“We then made a trip to the local grocery store where a radio station was having a live fundraiser. When he showed up with his homemade coloring books, he was interviewed on the radio. I was one proud mama!
“One of the radio station employees told him that she would hand deliver the coloring books to Wadena the following week. We got a confirmation email a couple of weeks later that the books had been delivered.
“While writing this letter, I just realized something. I am always trying to teach my kids the importance of those little acts of kindness but when I think about it, this is a perfect example of how our children are usually teaching us.”
Thank you for your story, Mandy, and the powerful reminder from your son that we are here to help each other.
Please continue to share your random acts of kindness stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.