Residents of all ages were welcomed on Saturday, September 14, inside Newtown High School’s cafetorium for the NHS Kindness Club’s Day of Kindness.
The event, organized by NHS Kindness Club advisor Lisa Sheridan, gathered Stars of Hope, Newtown Kindness, Ben’s Bells Newtown, Hearts of Hope Newtown, Actively Caring For People, and comfort dogs together to offer kindness-fostering activities.
Near the start of 2013, Ms Sheridan said she learned about Stars of Hope. The ongoing project is sponsored by the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which helps to rebuild communities across the country affected by disaster as a way of saying thank you for all the love and support Americans gave to New Yorkers following 9/11, according to the Stars of Hope website.
Ms Sheridan contacted the group through its Facebook page, offering thanks for having the stars placed around town following the events of 12/14. Ms Sheridan said Stars of Hope responded saying the group would love to return to Newtown. That, according to Ms Sheridan, was how everything began for the Day of Kindness.
Not long after, other groups began expressing interest in participating. Eventually Ms Sheridan said she was contacted by someone in Ohio, then by someone from Virginia Tech. Ms Sheridan said Chardon, Ohio, and Virginia Tech both arranged to hold Day of Kindness events on Saturday also.
“That is mind-blowing,” said Ms Sheridan, about the two other Day of Kindness events.
In one corner Newtown Kindness — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded after 12/14 in an effort to encourage, facilitate, and recognize the value of kindness — offered children who took a pledge to submit an act of kindness into the Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Awards a chance to spin a wheel to win one or multiple surprise prizes. Christi Carlson, who co-founded Newtown Kindness with her husband Aaron, also said students were busy filling out and decorating postcards throughout the event. The postcards read, “Here’s a little sunshine for your day!”
Stars of Hope was situated at another table in the cafetorium. People huddled over the table with wooden stars before them and paint brushes in hand.
According to Marcelle Robustelli Strong, with Stars of Hope, the stars made on Saturday will be spread around Newtown and Stratford before extra hearts are brought to Moore, Okla., and West, Texas. Stars of Hope volunteers from Georgia, Texas, North Dakota, Missouri, New York, and New Jersey made their way to NHS for the event.
At another station, student volunteers decorated bookmarks to give to C.H. Booth Library.
The Adults performed music on the cafetorium’s stage, directly behind where students were offering to paint faces. NHS freshman Emma Sheridan had her face painted by NHS freshman Monique Dubois during the event.
At other tables people participants created parts for Ben’s Bells and painted Hearts of Hope.
“The most important thing is kindness matters,” Ms Sheridan said, “and when you pay it forward that helps you, too.”