Spread Kindness Instead
As I turn on the TV and watch the news yet again bringing me information about the pandemic, I see more and more news stories about the random acts of kindness that people have been inspired to do. As more stories pop up, it makes me think about the true importance of acts of kindness.
As the pandemic continues, the days might feel longer and the idea of it ending seems further and further away. However, seeing these true heroes spread their kindness in different and unique ways makes the quarantine a little brighter.
The Best Acts of Kindness Stories
Sharing a Square
Greg Sansone noticed the number of people who didn’t have supplies in his community. He, along with a group of volunteers, helped hand out toilet paper. They were able to hand out nearly 1,000 rolls of toilet paper to residents and daycare facilities. On each of the bags, they had a note that said, we stand strong together. They spread hope during this time of uncertainty.
This social media hashtag has gained popularity throughout the St. Louis Community. The movement was first created by The Women’s Creative and The Experience Booklet. The two ultimate goals are to create a conversation between small businesses and help the community. They are reaching out to small businesses to find out what they need. They have reached about 8,000 members and the hashtag can be found on Instagram and Facebook.
A Hero Lives Here
In St. Peters, Annie Owens, who works at SSM Health, makes signs during her off hours for her fellow co-workers stating, “a hero lives here.” She then places the posters outside of her fellow coworkers' homes. Owens, in a KSDK interview for 5 on Your Side, stated, “I want to bring a smile to my coworkers’ faces so when they see that, they know that we’re all in this together and we all care about each other.”
Goodie Bags for Postmen
In University City, Mackenzie Schifano made goodie bags to place on her porch for her postmen and other delivery men. Each goodie bag contained candy, sanitizing wipes, and a note of kindness. Schifano stated, “This is my way of saying ‘thank you, I’m sorry, I appreciate you.’” She makes sure to sanitize each goodie bag and hopes they express how grateful she is for these heroes.
Dad’s Disney Chalk
One dad in Tampa, FL was upset to find out the Disney parks were closing due to the outbreak. Brian Morris was outside with his daughters and drawing with sidewalk chalk. He later discovered that his drawing of a koi fish sparked interest with his neighbors. Afterwards, he began to draw famous Disney characters on the sidewalk. He hoped that by doing this he can help bring back the spirit of creativity.
As more and more stories of kindness pop up in the news, it sparks more interest in helping others. I hope that reading these examples of acts of kindness can help inspire you to do a random act yourself. Perhaps these examples can inspire everyone to help each other out during these tough times and help us remember that we are all in this together.
The Power of One
My family consists of my dad, mom, me, two dogs, and a cat. Did you just realize something? Yes, that's right, I am the only kid.
Many stereotypes come along with being an only child. Many people look at us and say, “Lucky! I have siblings and they are the worst.” Speaking from experience, I think that being an only child has some cons, but it also comes with many pros as well.
Growing up, I loved being an only child. I didn’t have to share anything. I didn’t have to deal with someone messing around with my things or stealing time from my family. I thought that it was the best thing in the world. I was able to do things that many other kids could not do due to the fact that they had more people in their family.
I was viewed as "the spoiled one" by my other friends who had siblings. They would say things like:
“You’re so lucky.”
“I wish I was an only child.”
“I am the baby of 6 kids! McKenzie, you’ve got it made.”
At the time, I thought that they were all correct. I did have it made.
As I got older though, I thought about the things that I had missed out on by being an only child. I would never be someone’s sister. I wasn’t going to be Aunt Kenzie. I was alone on many levels.
I admit that this really bothered me at first. However, I have opened my eyes to the relationships that I do have. I have extremely wonderful parents that I wouldn’t change for the world. Also, my friends have become so close to me that I consider them to be my family. They are like the siblings I didn't get to have.
I have realized that I am extremely lucky to be an only child. I have wonderful relationships with family and friends. If I wasn’t an only child, then I wouldn’t have been able to have the experiences that I have had. I wouldn't have been able to afford the same opportunities to travel to wonderful places with my parents and have a great time with them.
In the end, I am grateful to be an only child. Beyond the travels, attention, and love I have experienced with my parents, I can make my relationships with my friends closer making them the family that I chose.
Giving Back to My Community
When I was thinking about something that I wanted to do for the holidays, I immediately thought of all of the hungry kids and adults in my community of Augusta. I turned my attention to how I can help neighbors that are suffering.
Recently, I noticed a new 24/7 outdoor food pantry placed at the Evangelische Ebenezer Kirche, also known as the Ebenezer Church of Christ. I knew wanted to help, so I went to the church and took a look at the sign that they had posted on the road that leads to the parking lot. There were no guidelines as to what could be donated, as long as it wasn’t perishable.
Then, the fun part came as I was able to pick out the food that I wanted to donate. I chose a variety of foods ranging from tuna to Indian Lentils. I also grabbed a box of macaroni and a jar of peanut butter. I put all 15 items into a box and walked down to the church, which isn’t that far from my house.
Once I got to the food pantry, I was shocked at how much stuff was already in it. I opened the door and was glad that the items that I had chosen were not already inside. I was happy with the selection of food that was in there for people who need it. I placed the items that I had brought with me, and I even organized the shelves a bit so people could easily find what they needed. I also noticed that people had placed hygiene items in the box as well.
I was ecstatic that I was able to donate food that would help those who are in need. I hope that my experience is an inspiration to you. Perhaps you can help others in your community, too. I had been eyeing the food pantry as soon as they built it. Now that I finally had made a donation into it, I can safely say that it is something that I will be doing more of in the future.
Until next time,
SomeBODY Loves You
Often, by today’s standards, people are expected to have that drop-dead gorgeous appearance that models and social media stars seem to have. However, the length that people go towards getting this body can be extreme. Anywhere from the expensive gym memberships to overrated diet plans, people will go out of their way in order to be what is considered “hot.”
Body shaming happens more often than people think. The idea that someone doesn’t meet the exact requirements that you feel are important for that person to be attractive is unethical. I have found that sometimes the most caring, understanding, and wonderful people are the ones that today’s society finds to be the “ugly” ones.
I have struggled with the issue myself. I was body-shamed by someone who I thought, at the time, was my best friend. I was verbally abused for multiple years about my outer appearance. This person felt that they need to tell me that I should live up to what is considered the standards to being pretty.
“You would look so much better if you lost weight.”
“I think that this would look better on someone who wasn’t as big as you.”
“Have you ever tried dieting? Or working out? Something?”
“Not to brag but I am SOOOO much skinnier and prettier than you.”
“I can eat from the kids menu, but I bet that’s not enough food for you.”
“This shirt is a dress on me. Isn’t tight on you?”
“I love being a small. I can’t imagine me being YOUR size.”
Those were the comments that I would hear often. At the time I was 5’0” and weighed 150 lbs. If you look at that as body mass index (BMI), I was considered to be overweight, but not obese. My “friend” sure let me know that I was bigger. I would hate looking in the mirror because it was almost as if the word FAT was written across my face. I didn’t feel confident in the way that I looked and didn’t want to talk to many people.
Throughout 7th grade, I would wear giant hoodies that would cover my body because I didn’t want people to see me. I still was body-shamed though as hot summer days and gym class required me to take them off. Gym class was a nightmare because I could feel judgemental eyes on me as I slipped into workout clothes and struggled to do simple exercises. Other kids could do simple warm-ups without breaking a sweat. I, however, was out of breath and was red in the face.
My “friend”, who I mentioned earlier, even went as far as to write a poem about me for her English class about how I was the ugly duckling in the school. She got an A, I got a broken heart. Enough was enough.
I decided that I needed to stop letting a few people ruin my thoughts about myself. I stopped talking to most of the people that made me feel like an outcast. I learned that I needed to start changing my view on myself and that if I wanted to change then I would be doing it for ME.
I started to tell myself positive comments about how I looked and would talk to people who saw the best in me. I never felt better in my life. Although I was still overweight, I had new confidence in myself. I even started to care about how I looked and realized that maybe I should take better care of myself.
Since then, I have lost almost 25 pounds. I am more confident in the way that I look and don’t dread looking in the mirror. I still know that I will have days when I am down and feel hopeless, however, I need to just keep telling myself: “You are BEAUTIFUL.”
I know that social media might say that I am normal, basic, or unattractive. But why should I let them judge me? I have great friends and family that make me feel beautiful every day and I thank them for all their love and support.
If you ever think that you are not good enough, just know that I love you and so many other people do as well. You are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. We only have one YOU. Don’t try to be someone else’s clone.
A Blast from the Past:
Things I Would Tell My Younger Self
Ah… being a child. Sounds good, right? To be at that age where the only thing that matters is what TV shows you're going to watch when you get home, or whose house you are going to have a play date at. The magical time when you can be a kid.
Looking back on it now, if I were able to be a kid again, I would make some changes.
#1. I would tell my little mind to never stop believing. Perhaps, I wouldn’t understand what my future self would be talking about. However, I feel that if I said this to my younger self, I most likely wouldn’t give up so much. I would stick with things even if they got hard. I wouldn’t stop asking questions, either! I would truly believe magic can happen!
#2. Not only would I tell myself to never stop believing, I would also tell my young self to go for it. I would often be scared to do things and try something new when I was little. Now that I look back on my life, I know that there were things that I should have taken the leap on.
I would encourage my younger self to know that even though it might be scary, that little push can make a difference.
I honestly can't tell you many times that I have looked back on my life and said to myself, “Man, I regret NOT doing that.” I once read something that said, “Live life so that when you are older you say ‘I regret doing that’ rather than saying ‘I should have done that.’” That hit me like a brick. I realized that at that moment, I had not been living my life to the fullest.
#3. I would also tell my younger self the friendships that I have will end and I should cherish them while they last. Unfortunately, I have lost some dear friends of mine whether it be from fights, distance, or other such problems. I still miss them to this day and feel that I should have taken the time to tell them how much they meant to me and about the impact they had on my life.
I know that I won’t have a magical time machine that will magically take me back to being a kid. What I do know is that I shouldn’t make these mistakes again. I tell my friends constantly (maybe too often) how much I appreciate them. I also have learned to take more risks and enjoy my life. I know that I can’t change the past, but I can always choose the future.
So, what would you tell your younger self? It's certainly something to think about.
PS I would also tell myself that the toy I wanted in the middle of the store that I cried over, isn’t worth the tears. Just saying!
McKenzie's Top Traveling Tips
Want to go somewhere? Is it your first time going on a vacation? Well, here are some tips that can help make the stressful situations less stressful and vacations more enjoyable.
I have been on my fair share of trips both in and out of the country. Though these trips were fun, they have given me tips to help make my next trip even better. Now, I am sharing them with you!
Ditch the agenda! When most people plan a trip, they tend to want everything planned down to the second of what activities they are doing. Here is my one-word tip for that, DON'T! Most of the time when there is a strict agenda, then you can’t have fun. You are pinned down so you can’t enjoy the things that you really want to do. By being spontaneous, you may try new things or learn what the location's hidden gems are.
Never eat at a place that you have at home. This rule has been in my family for years. Often, people like to eat at typical fast-food restaurants while traveling. Not only is it unhealthy, but you also are missing out on the experience of the hole-in-the-wall eateries. Some of my favorite restaurants have been found by accident, or simply just asking the locals.
Grab the brochures in the hotel. Those racks in the hotel may seem boring or intimidating, but I promise you they are helpful. Simply pick out the attractions that look fun on the rack, then take them back to your hotel room to examine them more closely. By doing this, you can find local attractions that you have never heard of before. We have found some of the best attractions, diners, state parks, etc. by looking at the brochures found in the hotel lobby.
Wear a hoodie/sweatshirt on the plane. Often times the cabin of an airplane is freezing. By bringing a hoodie, you can help stay warm. However, this also helps when the cabin heats up. By having something removable, you can take the item off without feeling uncomfortable. BONUS: they can also make for an excellent pillow if your plane doesn't have any to borrow.
Wear the biggest pair of shoes you want for the trip when on the plane. This is good for the limited space in your suitcase. By wearing the largest shoes that you pack, you can save almost 30% of your luggage space. This leaves room for more souvenirs to bring home.
Take LOTS of photos. Don't come home saying, “I should have taken more photos.” I promise by the time you land, you have missed great photo opportunities. If you are going with friends, take a snapshot of you sitting in the airline cabin together. Road trip? Safely, take a selfie with the driver while jamming to the radio. The more photos the better. Often, people take pictures at the destination rather than on the journey. Most of the best times I have had on vacation were on the way to the destination.
Don’t be afraid. Many people have a fear factor that goes along with traveling. I don’t like planes. I don’t like the food. I don’t like traveling alone. STOP IT! You can’t say things about something you’ve NEVER tried. Sometimes the things that you were afraid to try end up being the best thing you’ve ever had.
I hope that these tips can help you create a more memorable travel experience with your friends and family. As always, make sure that the memories you make on the trip will last a lifetime. Have fun, try something new, and be spontaneous. Remember, it is more about the journey rather than the destination. I hope you have a wonderful trip and lots of fun.
Taking a Stand Against the Grip of Technology
Jr. Optimist PR Officer.
Theatre Guild Member.
Loves dogs and otters.
Addicted to Oreos.
"When the phone was tied with WIRE, Humans were free."
- Gaurab Chattopadhyay