Tis the season that lasts year round – in our own backyards and neighborhoods. By La Dene Conroy – MEPI board member
November is a time of year when many bestow gifts and presents on so many less fortunate or under-resourced persons. As a school administrator many businesses and individuals ask to provide cheer in the way of gifts for a child and/or the whole family. I often think about the simple pleasure I receive each day giving a smile, a hug or a sparkling look of happiness sent to a child \ walking down a long corridor. I think the simple acts of kindness as a daily act of living are so critically important to inform others that actions can speak louder than words.
Students creating laminated dresser and dining placements for nursing home patients can last for a very long time; spending time with a grandparent reminiscing (even if the grandma does not remember who you are); reading in the nursery room to the children of the parents in line at the homeless shelter while they are waiting to get an assigned cot for the night; picking up litter when you see it to really start the cause for a cleaner tomorrow.
Our schools are the places to start, sharing ideas generated by students and other quiet heroes who do simple acts of kindness daily. I think back of a time in Ohio when our local Girl Scout Troop gathered small unused or unopened toiletries, cough drops, mints, lotions, socks, and other small useful items and wrapped them and put them in baskets with a small calendar for the men and women who lived in a group home; and the reading association gathered baby “board books” to donate to the girls at the Florence Crittenden Home who were having new babies.
Teaching children through simple acts of kindness can have a greater impact and open their hearts as they develop into teens and young adults.
The lives of others are just as meaningful as your own. Our social responsibility and moral imperative are to be bestowed as happiness or peace on others so they can feel hopeful. Our actions and words in front of others speak volumes to those that are watching up close or afar. These small and simple acts of kindness show appreciation for life and mankind as well as offering gratitude for the gifts one receives while giving others simple wonders. In most instances the simple acts of kindness cost nothing but are rich to both the giver and receiver: smile at the folks at the bus terminal, drop off homemade cookies to an elderly neighbor or pediatric nurses; volunteer to read with a child-of-promise in a school, buy a cup of coffee at the drive-in window for the person behind you, or stop and spend time with an elderly relative.
And not to dare forget that the handwritten thank you note is a special gift in itself to receive in the mail to show gratitude or appreciation; often to thank someone for their gift of time. A book is one of my most favorite gifts to give and a special inscription to the person receiving it. Remember, a book is a present that can be opened again and again. We want our young people to know that it is better to give than to receive. The inner spirit feels the happiness in their heart through receiving. I ask that we continue to model, demonstrate and share the simple gifts of kindness every day. Dr. Maria Montessori, helps us to know, if children, like adults feel peace in their hearts, they can easily relate peacefully to those around them. Our responsibility is to be nurturing kindness every day to everyone.
In 1948, Maria Montessori wrote, “The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.”