Orion Jean, the then 10-year-old Fort Worth Texas boy who won a student kindness contest in 2020 where he pitched a campaign of compassion, is still spreading kindness. Last year, he used his $500 prize to buy toys that he donated to a children’s hospital in Dallas. After that, he partnered with a relief group to organize food drives and helped distribute 100,000 meals to families in Texas.
An avid reader, Jean has moved on to a new effort of collecting books to give out to children who might not have any at home. So far, he has 120,000 books but his goal is to have 500,000 books to pass out by the end of August. “I want to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible,” he said. Jean said he’s participating in “the race to kindness,” because “It’s all about my moral duty to help people. You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”
The children’s literacy non-profit, Reading Is Fundamental says 2 out of 3 children living in poverty do not have books at home and a recent survey reveals 94% of teachers’ biggest concern is their students do not have access to print books at home. Race to 500K books campaign runs until August 31st you can get involved by donating new or gently used children’s books to several drop off locations in Texas and Oklahoma. You can also make monetary donations through the website.
Last year, Orion worked quickly to record a video for the 2020 competition, held by Think Kindness, an organization that aims to inspire acts of kindness in schools and communities. In his speech, Orion focused on the idea that “kindness is easy, it can be free, and it can make someone’s day a whole lot better,” he said. Not only did Orion win the contest, but he also put his speech into action by creating the Race to Kindness, a series of events spreading kindness around the world.
Orion’s Race to Kindness previous campaigns of Race to 500 Toys for children at a local hospital and Race to 100K Meals were a success. For his efforts, the fifth grader was named one of America’s top 2021 youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Orion said organizing a donation drive is one way to practice kindness, but small, deliberate acts are just as important.
“It can start off with a positive thought or being kind to someone,” said Orion. He offered suggestions such as leaving a nice note for a neighbor or asking your parents how you can help them at home. “If you treat someone with a little kindness and with a little care, hopefully it will be returned back to you. And even if it doesn’t, it can make you feel better knowing that someone else feels better.”