Have you ever had something turn out exactly like you hoped it would? I had that happen today, and I’m still smiling! You may have read in an earlier post about a tragedy in my hometown. As I noted in that story, some beautiful things were happening that brought light to a dark time. I mentioned the local t-shirt shop owner who worked way beyond overtime to design, produce, and sell t-shirts with the #63 sold at cost for our community to wear at school, football games and even the funeral.
A t-shirt wouldn’t seem to have the power to bring people together, but this one was special. It became a symbol of love and kindness and hope. It was a tangible way to show support for the family who was beginning the process of living through the unimaginable. Just take one look at this photo from the first football game back on our home field after the death of our #63. That shade of red is not one of our school colors, but it is the predominant color in the stands!
I don’t know about you, but I have my best ideas in the shower or right as I’m going to sleep. While thinking about the outpouring of love from our community, I kept going back to the t-shirt and the man who owns the shop. The man who gave up his own sleep and downtime to make sure our community could wear #63. The man who charged the price of the shirt, but forfeited the cost of labor and ink and all of the other expenses involved with running a business. The man who simply did the right thing when everyone around him was hurting.
I am the advisor for a student leadership group at my middle school, along with our assistant principal and another teacher. We talk a lot about kindness and influence with our kids. We try to provide opportunities for our students to use their positions for good. Here’s where my shower-idea comes into play. I chatted with my co-advisors, who jumped on board. When we brought the idea to the kids, they were more than up to the challenge.
The idea was simple: execute a Kindness Ambush on the man who gave so much to the community during a time of need as a way to keep that positivity moving forward.
We had a blast working behind the scenes to pull off the surprise. Kids made posters. We purchased gift cards for the t-shirt shop employees to have a pizza party. We printed and framed the photo above of all those red shirts in the football stadium. Another teacher organized a bus. I called the shop to make sure the employees did whatever it took to keep the owner there when we planned to come.
Our assistant principal and I entered the shop first. We wanted to catch him off guard- this was an ambush, after all! He thought we were there to buy a couple of shirts. Then, he noticed the bus in the parking lot with kids filing out of the door!
You can watch this video clip to see the rest. Suffice it to say, our Kindness Ambush was successful. Mission accomplished!