There’s a pretty big celebrity living in my neighborhood. I hate to brag, but the president lives just a few doors down from me. If you weren’t aware, you might drive past his house without knowing it.
His name is Dawson, and he is president of the student body at Lincoln Elementary School in Aberdeen, S.D.
Back in October, Dawson ran for president in a tight match against several fifth grade girls. The candidates each put up posters and did a video presentation for their peers.
When I asked Dawson the secret to winning the race, he smiled and said, “I was the only boy. I had a feeling all the boys would vote for me.”
In an adorable act of artistic kindness, one of our neighbors (who also happens to be a teacher at the school) made a special pumpkin to celebrate Dawson’s success.
It simply said, “The President lives here.”
RELATED COLUMNS: If you look for kindness, you will find it | Woman shares gratitude and kindness through shoeboxes | Community creates unity by embracing kindness | 'Gospel Grandma' makes music her legacy of kindness | Harvest 2020 is filled with kindness
Dawson is friends with my son, Ben, so I get to hear a lot about the ups and downs that come with being a preteen.
Once in a while, I also get to hear a classroom perspective on kindness, like this one from Jenna Grossenburg, who is a fifth grade teacher at Ben’s school.
“I had to share this act of kindness that brought tears to my eyes. One of my students is working on pronouncing certain words correctly. Yesterday, she got two retainers that she has to wear all the time except when she’s at recess or eating.
"She came into school today very upset and started to cry. I told her I once had retainers too, and it was hard for me to talk for a few days.
"A student in my classroom went over to the girl and boldly said, ‘You are stronger than the words that people say. I am here for you. You’ll be able to speak normal again soon.’ It brought goosebumps, tears, and happiness to me all at once. I am half tempted to wear my retainer again so I can speak differently too and show students you aren’t defined by how you talk."
Differences can be exceptionally difficult at that age, but as Jill Lord from Syracuse, Utah, shares, it can also serve as a reminder of all the people who love and support us when things get really hard.
"Last week my 11-year-old daughter, Shelby, lost part of her finger. It was basically chopped off in a fan blade. She was so scared and traumatized. It was horrible.
"What came next was amazing! Neighbors, friends, family members and nurses all came together and made Shelby's trauma subside with kindness and love. People brought teddy bears, balloons, flowers, candy, spa treatments, coloring books. Her room was full of so much love it was overwhelming. It didn't take long for her bright, shining smile to return. We cannot get Shelby's finger back, but hopefully every time she looks at her hand she will remember all the love she felt when she lost it."
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.