I’m sharing a few of the wonderful nominations we receive at MKRO. I get to read about inspirational people of all ages doing acts of kindness, large and small every day. It’s heartwarming and reminds me that most people in our world are really good people. Today I’m sharing with you a few nominations we’ve gotten of people who inspire us with their kind hearts. I wish we could give all of them Matt’s Kindness Awards, they so deserve it.
May their kindness ripple forward and inspire all of you.
Riley Damiano (Patterson, NY) “Riley is the founder and director of The Blue Lollipop Project for pediatric cancer research and awareness. She started this project in 2014 at the age of 12 in honor of pediatric cancer warrior Ty Louis Campbell and his love of blue lollipops. For every dollar raised through her project, a blue lollipop is sent to a child in a hospital and 100% of the donation funds pediatric cancer research. Riley has raised over $22,000 for pediatric cancer research, sent over 22,000 blue lollipops to children in hospitals, and made millions of people more aware of pediatric cancer. Riley’s work has inspired her to pursue a career to keep making a difference for pediatric cancer warriors and their families.”
Simran Bhargava (Waxhaw, NC) “Simran Bhargava is a 17-year-old girl who I have watched grow up. I am on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit organization, the HelpHygiene Foundation, which she co-founded when she was just 13 years old. She inspires me because she is always thinking of ways to improve her community. Before starting her nonprofit, she was very involved in community service work and volunteering locally. Now, her organization has over 70 members internationally. She uses her platform to spread awareness of the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene. She has raised thousands of dollars that have gone directly to help those who need it, especially local homeless shelters and developing countries. She is very inspirational as she has done all of this work at such a young age, we cannot wait to see what she does in the future.”
Adam Hewett (Goleta, CA) “Adam is my husband. He does so many nice things for others. One of the things he did: My sister is deaf and has 4 small kids that she was raising on her disability check. Summer was almost over and with school about to start, Adam decided to take them shopping for new shoes at the Nike store. It was a treat that the kids appreciated, and looked forward to every year.
This year the kids had a friend over. They asked if he can come along with us for the ride. With his parent’s permission, we allowed him to come too. Once we got to the store, the nieces and nephews got to pick any pair of shoes that they wanted. As one of the nephews was trying on a pair of shoes, he said that he would save his money so that someday he can get the pair of Jordan’s that he really liked. Adam told him to grab them if that was what he wanted. He was so excited, happily showing his friend his shoes. His friend thought that was awesome and was really happy for him. Then Adam turned to him and asked him, ‘where are the shoes you picked out? Didn’t you find any that you like?’ He started to explain that he couldn’t get a pair when Adam looked at him pretending to be shocked. He said ‘I took 5 kids to a shoe store, I expect 5 kids to get shoes if they want them.’ Happily, but shyly the kid reached for a pair when Adam stopped him and asked, “you didn’t want a pair of Jordan’s like the ones he got?’ That kid also was from a large family, and having new shoes instead of used shoes was something he only dreamed of.
That day he not only got Jordan’s but he got treated no different than family. The kid cried. It wasn’t so much the shoes as it was that he was treated no different, not as the younger child, the neighbor child, a guest, or a charity case, but as if the thought of him being anything but equally special would have been absurd.”
Natalie Salvatierra (Tustin, CA) “My daughter Natalie created an international mental health organization in May 2020 called Solely Sunshine. She wanted to help people with OCD and really any mental health condition after learning that some people with an obsessive-compulsive hand washing condition were frequently washing their hands (so they would not get COVID) until their hands became bloody and raw. Natalie really wanted to spread some encouragement and hope to these individuals, so she created the website Solely Sunshine. The website gives anyone around the world a platform to write a virtual letter of encouragement that someone from her team transcribes. She mails all of the thoughtfully transcribed letters to mental health facilities around the world, but mainly in the United States. So far people in nearly 50 countries and 45 US states have written approx. 4500 letters. Her goal is to send 10k letters of sunshine and encouragement to make people with mental health conditions smile.”
Akshara Shankar (Holliston, MA) “While volunteering at a pantry, Akshara Shankar noticed that food pantries often struggle to find the right kind of donations. There can be too much of some items while too little of others. Some are thrown away as they are past expiration dates. So she created a free platform called Many Hands Food Pantry to send potential donors notifications and alerts about regular and urgent pantry needs. She went further to conduct targeted food drives based on what a pantry needed whether it was special dietary requirements like gluten-free food or fresh produce or milk products. She began working with seven farms in the Greater Boston area to regularly donate their excess food produce to pantries. Today, she is a go-to person for several pantries who write to her if they have an urgent requirement, which she then works to meet. She also involves her teachers, town residents, classmates, and beyond to join her to collect, spread the word, and raise donations. She has also now conducted 20 mega drives, collecting more than 1,100 lb. of food each time. Over the last year, she noticed how some towns were particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. She targeted her food drives to those towns, providing them with much-needed help.”
Khalil Robinson (Arcata, CA) “Khalil is the definition of selfless, thoughtful, and kind. I met him in school where we shared an interest in veterinary medicine as well as a love for animals. Khalil always went above and beyond to help fellow classmates with anything they needed whether it be academic or personal. He went out of his way to assist fellow students in need by tutoring others on his own time without compensation. He’s the person who will stop what he’s doing to help someone regardless of what they need. He is active in his community, a loving father, and one of the best friends a person could have. He works at a local veterinary clinic where I recently had to take my fish to be euthanized. I called him crying because I didn’t know what the best decision for my animal was and he came out, on the clock, and spent 20 minutes with me assessing my fish and going through my options so I could make the best choice. Thanks to him, I feel secure in the decision I made. He may be the most optimistic person I’ve ever met even in the face of pain. He builds up every single person he encounters and they always leave with a smile on their face. This world is lucky to have him.”
Nithin Parthasarathy (Irvine, CA) “It’s difficult to believe that, in a country where 40 million people face hunger every day, so much food could go unconsumed. Perfectly good food is being wasted at every level of the supply chain: on the farm, during distribution, at the store, and in our homes. Most of the restaurants, bakeries, cafes throw away unsold but perfectly good and nutritious food on a daily basis.
Nithin started his non-profit Zero Waste Initiative with the aim to rescue food waste and reduce food insecurity while preserving environmental sustainability. Growing up, he was always instructed about being conscious of food wastage. Once, while eating at a Bruegger’s bagel shop, Nithin observed that the surplus unsold bagels were discarded after store closure every day. These were good quality bagels but simply made in excess. He reached out to several shelters and food banks to see if they would be willing to absorb those unsold bagels. Thus, he began daily operations collecting surplus bagels from one bagel store and delivering them to two charities. Meanwhile, COVID was having an unprecedented impact on the employment and economy, so he decided to accelerate the operations and reached out to more stores including Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Getting approval and organizing food distribution to different non-profit organizations required a lot of advocacy on his part especially given the pandemic-induced fear of the unknown alongside overcoming obstacles with regards to health risk.
Nithin constantly reaches out to high school students to recruit volunteers, trains them on the pickup and delivery procedures, coordinating between donation sources and recipients. Expanding to 7 student volunteers, his non-profit has rescued over $100,000 in wholesale value of baked goods such as bagels and donuts in just a year donating to various organizations and shelters. Volunteers from Zero Waste Initiative pick up and deliver baked goods seven days a week and are serving about 12 local and national organizations such as Salvation Army, Power of One Foundation, Share Our Selves, Families Forward, etc. Hundreds of people include veterans, women, children, college students, seniors, and the poor benefit from these donations.”
From small acts of kindness to creating foundations, they all matter. They all ripple out and have a positive impact on people’s lives. I hope this reminds you how much good there is in the world. Ordinary people making our world better, one kindness at a time.
Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness? Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.
Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it? Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 and let us help you spread kindness.