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10 Extraordinary Ways Kids Are Giving Us Hope in the Time of Coronavirus

These ten examples will inspire you and the children in your lives to shake off the pain of the pandemic and help build a better tomorrow.

Children’s messages during COVID-19 outbreakLea Scaddan/Getty Images

Kids are resilient. After a few tears, a skinned knee is easily forgotten and they go on to play, learn, grow, and build the future. As Zoom classes have replaced school and walking with the family has replaced roughhousing on the playground with friends, the COVID-19 crisis has changed their lives. Still, despite it all, kids across America are doing extraordinary things to brighten spirits, alleviate suffering, and bring hope to all of us. These ten examples will inspire you and the children in your lives to shake off the pain of the pandemic and help build a better tomorrow. If you have a story of kindness to share, go to RD.com/nicest and tell us!

Dori Kaplan with overlay image of pair of her handmade earringsCourtesy Dori Kaplan (2)

Jewelry sales helping to feed America

Dori Kaplan, home from her freshman year at Tulane University due to COVID-19, was eager to volunteer at a local non-profit, but with the stay-at-home order, that wasn’t possible. Instead, the 19-year-old is selling handmade jewelry to benefit Feeding America. All of the proceeds from the beaded earrings, bracelets, and necklaces she creates from her Westfield, New Jersey, home, go directly to the organization meeting the needs of individuals struggling with food insecurity. So far, she has raised $1,000 and her father’s employer is matching her donations. “For those of us who are in the fortunate position of having enough money to support ourselves and our families, we cannot sit comfortably at home while people go hungry,” said Kaplan. To learn more about her inspiring efforts, visit her Facebook page, Dori’s Jewelry for Feeding America.

sisters work together to make masks. one sews, one cuts the fabric.Courtesy Suzanne England (3)

Siblings making masks

In early April, Etsy sent its sellers an email asking them to offer face masks for sale in their stores. The England sisters from University Park, Texas, didn’t hesitate to join the effort. Lydia, an 11th grader, and Caleigh, an eighth-grader, began spending 12 hours a day making masks and selling them through Lydia’s Etsy store, Twinkle Toes, and Bows. Using a portion of their proceeds, they purchase materials to make masks for First Responders at no charge. When Lydia isn’t sewing or Caleigh isn’t cutting out patterns, the two focus on their online school schedules as well as participate in online ballet and gymnastics training. Their customers are grateful for the masks. One wrote, “You are making a difference in these challenging times, especially for those of us who do not have the resources to sew our own.” In addition to sharing their praise, many buyers are donating money to cover the cost of additional masks for donation. Have you wondered lately: How often can you wear your reusable masks between washing?

aidan and erin finnCourtesy Judy Zitnik Finn

Teens tutoring students for free

Aidan and Erin Finn heard about parents struggling to work from home and homeschool their children. Focusing on their knowledge of school and screens, they started Tutor Teens to provide support and relief to the parents and children in their Cincinnati, Ohio, community. Aidan, a junior, and Erin, a freshman, along with about 40 other high school students, work remotely with students in grades K-8. The dedicated teens from area schools offer free homework help, coaching for music and art projects, and other services to keep children engaged and interested in learning. They offer 30-minute or 45-minute sessions, one-to-two times per week. Find out 11 ways teachers are going above and beyond during coronavirus.

teen standing with essential workers at the firehouseCourtesy Michael Zola

Teen celebrates 16th birthday by honoring essential workers

In mid-April, Gaby Zola turned 16 years old. Knowing that the shelter-in-place order would nix her plans for a party, she asked her mom if she could start a GoFundMe campaign instead. Her goal: Feed essential workers and support local restaurants. So far, the Stoughton, Massachusetts, teen has raised over $6,000 and fed over 600 workers. Along with providing meals to healthcare workers, she has delivered food to fire and police stations, teachers at various schools, pharmacies, and even essential workers at a company focused on making labels for cleaning and antibacterial products, among other businesses. The busy teen also stops by grocery stores and small shops to thank employees with gift cards to local restaurants. Find out how you can support Zola’s Lunches for Our Heroes project.

ryan washington holding a face shield he madeCourtesy Crystal Washington

Offering protection for essential workers

Two years ago, the only Christmas present Ryan Washington wanted from his parents was a 3D printer. Initially, he made keychains and plastic toys for his friends and family from his Brick, New Jersey, home. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, his mother showed him an online story about police officers needing protective shields. The eighth-grader researched patterns online and discovered a YouTube video of a guy making shields for nurses. Washington spent hours creating the shields to donate to the Brick Police Department. “They were so thankful,” the soon-to-be Eagle Scout said in a Facebook post on the police department’s page. “It feels so good that I can help them this way.”

seashells with writing on themCourtesy Lorie Bonadonna

Spreading cheer through seashells

Thomas Bonadonna wanted to bring cheer and a little joy to his North Babylon, New York, neighborhood. The 14-year-old painted “kindness shells” with various sayings from “Love life” and “Don’t worry about a thing” to “Be kind” and “Don’t worry, be happy.” Bonadonna, who has down syndrome, will start high school next fall. He and his mom, Lori, strolled through the neighborhood and left the inspirational gifts on their neighbors’ stoops. “He had a ball,” said Lori. “We hope it brought a smile to someone’s face during this crazy time.”

healthcare workers holding up donations and thank you signsCourtesy Bryce Liu

Children of healthcare workers feeding frontline heroes

The children of healthcare workers, Jeffrey Chuong, Bryce Liu, and Omar Busaidy, saw the strain the pandemic was putting not only on their parents but other medical staff. Their parents’ long shifts and their concerns about slowing the pandemic left the healthcare professionals with little time to focus on food. As a way to give back, the high school juniors formed Food For Heroes, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the deliveries of fresh meals to healthcare workers on the frontlines, with Houston, Texas, restaurants. Through their GoFundMe account, they have raised over $4,500 and donated 180 meals.

Lily Ryan and Ty SchererSydney Scherer/Courtesy Lily Ryan

Creating a rock-solid program to help others

Ty Scherer and Lily Ryan were concerned about the future of local Glen Rock, New Jersey, businesses, shuttered after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, they were searching for a way to bring the community together. In mid-March, they designed and sold “Rock Solid” T-shirts to raise funds for gift cards to give to teachers and healthcare workers. The high school juniors’ initiative, called “Glen Rock Solid,” has raised almost $14,000, far exceeding their goal of $3,000. After covering the cost of ordering the T-shirts, they were left with enough money to buy gift cards for distribution to area organizations, according to their GoFundMe page. Find out 18 things you can still do to support your favorite small businesses. 

michael owens delivering groceriesCourtesy Michael Owens

Neighbors helping neighbors

When the coronavirus hit, Michael Owens was concerned about the needs of his Fairfax County, Virginia, neighbors, many of whom are senior citizens. In response, he created Greenbrier Cares, a volunteer organization to help the residents in his Greenbriar subdivision connect with one another. More specifically, the tenth-grader was eager for neighbors to feel comfortable asking each other for help. Residents are encouraged to shop for those who are sick or unable to leave their homes and to handle tasks for anyone unable to do so for themselves. “I have personally benefited from this service and very much appreciate his thoughtfulness and the kindness of the helpers!” said Nancy Kredel. “I feel very cared for.”

zachary wilkinsKaylie Cross/Courtesy Zachary Wilkins

Displaying ribbons to support and help healthcare workers

Various organizations are providing meals for healthcare workers and essential employees, a much-needed service during the time of coronavirus. Zachary Wilkins, a junior in high school, has found a different way to help healthcare providers: He is focusing on their mental health needs. Through “Remedy Ribbons,” Wilkins and his supporters are placing blue ribbons on trees throughout New Orleans, Louisiana, as a sign of support and gratitude for healthcare workers. Also, the organization is raising money to fund programs focused on supporting and promoting the sustained mental health of first responders and healthcare providers on the frontlines. This therapist shares how she is staying sane during coronavirus quarantine.

Lisa Kanarek
Lisa Kanarek is a freelance writer who covers family, relationships, and acts of kindness. Her work has been published in Reader’s Digest, The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. She lives in Dallas, TX. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.