Wearing animal shirts, headbands, hats and costumes on a spirit day to celebrate The Great Kindness Challenge Jan. 22-26, Birdneck Elementary students and staff showed that they are “Wild About Kindness.”
That’s why pre-kindergartner (pre-K) Amelia Hardy was dressed like a penguin when Pete Reuss called her to the front of the cafeteria for a special recognition.
“My name is Mr. Pete,” he said to the room full of pre-K students and teachers. “About a month ago, I was right here with a bunch of friends and we were giving toys to some great kids.”
The Noblemen, a service organization of which Reuss is a member, hosts an annual toy drive and delivers the collected gifts to young schoolchildren at special events before the winter holidays. Amelia was one of the hundreds of Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) pre-kindergarteners who attended one of The Noblemen’s events in December. She also was someone who demonstrated the organization’s mission with a selfless “Noble Deed,” impressing Reuss and his fellow members.
“How many of you like to get toys?” Reuss asked the Birdneck pre-kindergartners.
Then he asked, “How many of you like to give away toys?”
“Amelia was asked what she wanted for Christmas, and what did you tell everybody?”
“I want a Hatchimal!” Amelia announced into the microphone.
“Everybody loves Hatchimals, right?” Reuss continued. “Well, Amelia got the very last Hatchimal we had that night. There was a little girl behind her in line, and you know what she wanted? She wanted a Hatchimal, too. So you know what Amelia did?”
“I gave it to her,” Amelia told the crowd.
“She gave her the only Hatchimal we had left,” Reuss affirmed.
“We were so impressed by Amelia’s great kindness that we decided to give her something special today because when you give, you get even more,” said Reuss. “So we are going to present something to Amelia today for the Great Kindness Challenge because of the great kindness she showed. Everybody give a big applause to Amelia and to…Amelia’s new bicycle.”
From around the cafeteria corner, fellow Nobleman Kimball Payne appeared ringing the bell on the handlebars of new pink bike to the delight of Amelia and her peers.
Invited to try out her new bike, Amelia rode through the center of the cafeteria with her webbed penguin feet on the pedals as her family members took photos.
Brianica Thomas, Amelia’s mother, was at the holiday event where her daughter gave up the coveted Christmas gift she’d been talking about since October.
“That’s all she wanted. She told everybody she wanted a Hatchimal,” recalled Thomas. “She heard the little girl behind her in line talking about how she was excited to get a Hatchimal. So, Amelia gets her Hatchimal and is all excited and sits down. Then she realizes they’re bringing out other toys for the little girl behind her, and says, ‘Well, where’s her Hatchimal?’ I told her, ‘I think they ran out, sweetheart.’ ‘Oh, that’s so sad,’ she said. Then a few minutes later she asked, “Where did she go? I want to give her my Hatchimal so she can have one too.”
Even after The Noblemen gave Amelia new toys to take home in place of the Hatchimal she gave away, Thomas said she continued to share those gifts with others.
“We were walking out of the school and she saw a little toddler walking in and said, ‘Oh, I want to give her this baby doll.’ She gave that away, too. She was excited to do it though. It was the sweetest thing.”
Amelia’s acts of kindness extend to playing with others at the park and to animals, according to Thomas. She is always sharing her toys and insists that even the smallest spider be taken care of and released outside. “She’s really thoughtful about it all,” Thomas said.
And since the end of December, Amelia also has been taking care of not one, but two Hatchimals thanks to Santa and to an aunt who delivered them for Christmas.
While she is grateful for all the gifts, Amelia still prefers to be the one showing kindness to others, offering this explanation: “Because I like to give more.”