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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

15 Kids Who Went So Above and Beyond for Their Parents, You’ll Be Brought to Tears

Need a gift idea? Sometimes it's better to show a parent you love them than tell them. These true-life, heartwarming stories prove action speaks louder than words.

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Love letters

Cindy Mathis was touched when her daughter, Macy, gave her 25 handwritten letters for her birthday. Each envelope had a specific time for when to open, like “When You Can’t Sleep” or “When You Need to Smile.” Neither of them knew at the time, though, just how important those notes would become. About a year later, Macy, 16, died in a car crash with her boyfriend, but those letters kept her memory alive. In “When You Miss Me,” Macy wrote, “I hope that wherever you are or whatever you’re doing you’re okay. I’m probably missing you too.” For “When You Feel Lonely,” she encouraged her mom, “Please don’t feel lonely, Mommy. You always have me.” Those letters help give Mathis closure, she told TODAY.

Do you live in a place where the kids are this nice? Then help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader’s Digest!

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All booked up

After her book agent sent her a package with 27 rejection letters, Mary Petrie gave up on selling her novel, At the End of Magic. More than a decade later, the college English teacher ran across the old draft and read a snippet to her family. Her 18-year-old son, Stryker, asked for the files so he could read it, but then kept insisting he was too busy to get around to it. Secretly, though, Stryker spent two months working through the book so he could self-publish it for her. When he handed her a copy, complete with the cover art she’d described, Petrie burst into tears. “I always saw myself as a writer first and everything else second,” she told TODAY. “Now I get to live it out and I can’t thank my son enough. I have an enormous smile on my face and a sense of wonder at the person he is.”

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Priceless present

A nine-year-old boy proves his love for his father is more valuable than money. After hearing his father lost his job, a young boy decided to gift his own present to his parents. He handed them a $50 bill he received from another relative and told his dad, “You need this more than I do, right now.” —JD, Brooklyn, New York

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Riddle of life

After a special wake-up call from her two daughters on the morning of her 40th birthday, a mom realized there is much more to focus on than gray hairs and fine lines, as she enters a new decade. With a clever homemade scavenger hunt crafted by the little girls, this mom had to rely on her wit and wisdom (which comes with age and experience, naturally) to answer the difficult riddles, like, “Where does mommy go, when she really has to go?” The powder room helped cure this mom’s fear of growing old. —MG, Sea Bright, New Jersey

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Nicest-Gifts-Kids-Have-Given-To-ParentsDrozhzhina Elena/Shutterstock

A perfect nesting place

After a woman’s pet parakeet, Sly, unexpectedly passed away, her son flew home to console her. On a day trip to New York City, he brought his mom into a bird store to browse at the beautiful species. When she sat down at a table, a Senegal Parrot full of personality walked straight into her lap. The woman’s son bought the pricey bird for her right on the spot. Seventeen years later, the charismatic bird named Gizmo calls her “Princess.” Read on for more acts of kindness. —DS, Jackson, New Jersey

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Final days

Taylor Masilotti’s mother, Donna, had already been battling Stage IV brain and lung cancer for more than a year when Taylor found out she was pregnant. Donna had hoped to go to her daughter’s 20-week ultrasound to find out the baby’s sex, but she was too weak to get out of bed. Not wanting her mom to miss the boy-or-girl reveal, Taylor arranged to have the ultrasound at her bedside in the hospital. Holding hands, they learned Taylor would give birth to a baby girl. Donna passed away three days later. She would never get to hold her granddaughter, but she got to share happy tears with Taylor as they learned the news about the baby girl, according to USA Today.

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Me before you?

During an UP TV project, low-income kids were asked what the present of their dreams was, and what their parents would pick. The kids chose Xbox 360s, computers, and Barbie houses for themselves, and rings, TVs, and watches for their parents. The project organizers gave both gifts to the kids, but there was a catch: They could only keep one. For most toy-obsessed kids, the decision would be obvious, but not for these children. Not one, but all of the kids from Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, chose to give rather than receive, reports the Washington Post.

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shaveheadEugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock

Becoming twins

Rebecca Slivinsky had only been in Georgia for graduate school for a few months when her mother received a breast cancer diagnosis. With her mom still in Connecticut, Slivinsky was miles away, but still wanted to do everything she could to support her mom. When she came home for Christmas, she surprised her mom with a new haircut—she’d shaved her head in solidarity. Her mother burst in to tears and told her, “I love it. Now we’re twins,” according to Daily Mail.

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Nicest-Gifts-Kids-Have-Given-To-ParentsAnke van Wyk/Shutterstock

Value of love

After a six-year-old boy found out his mom was robbed he came to her rescue. Dawn Pritchard was devastated when she found out her bank account information was stolen and her funds were wiped out. When her son saw how upset she was he left her an envelope addressed “To: Mom, From: Warren.” Inside she found his hard-earned $2. Beyond proud of her son’s selflessness, she repaid him with a sandwich and some good news—the bank would refund her account, reports the Good News Network.

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Chocolate hearts and healthy kidneys

Mandy Hutchinson had been suffering from kidney failure for more than a year, and was dependent on dialysis. As soon as her daughter, Milissa, learned a live donation would be possible, giving away her own kidney to save her mom’s life was a no-brainer. On February 14, 2014 she underwent the organ operation and optimistically told the Daily Mail, “I didn’t give it a second thought to give my kidney away. I don’t need two of them anyway.”

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fatherdaughterChickenStock Images/Shutterstock

Gift of fatherhood

Gabriella Guardado had treated her stepdad like a father since he married her mom when Guardado was ten years old. She’d wanted David Lynde to adopt her when she was younger, but her biological father refused to sign off on it. By the time she was 22, though, she could apply for adult adoption in Florida without consent from her birth dad, so she surprised Lynde with the papers for his 53rd birthday. When Lynde realized what the documents were, he needed to choke back tears. “I want you to. You don’t have to—you can say no—but I want you to adopt me,” Guardado, who later changed her last name to his, says in a video. “You’ve been my dad and I know legal papers don’t change anything.”

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The American dream

Originally from Italy, a man traveled with his brothers to build a life in the United States. His small entrepreneurial businesses turned into big money making companies and helped him provided a home and wealth for his wife, three daughters, and extended family. When he decided to retire, his girls, now women with their own families threw him a surprise retirement party. After paying tribute to their father’s success the girls closed out the bill with another special gesture and told him, “Dad, this one’s on us.” —SR, Staten Island, New York

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It’s the thought that counts

From thoughtful to questionable, one mom of three kids has had her fair share of unique gifts. “The greatest gift was self made, I think—or picked. My son who was four years old picked all the yellow weeds at the school playground. When I picked him up he ran over and said, ‘look mom at all the flowers I got for you!!!’ It melted my heart. We put them in a vase and he couldn’t wait to show everyone what he got for me.” Brittany, Avalon, California

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Nicest-Gifts-Kids-Have-Given-To-ParentsMarie C Fields/Shutterstock

An unforgettable snack

A father was mortified when his son became inconsolable over a missed opportunity for a hot pretzel at an outside mall. After he promised the little boy he would get him the treat first before they go shopping the next time around, his big sister had other plans. When she came home from school the next day, she handed her four-year-old brother a gift wrapped in tin foil. She used her lunch money to surprise him with a flattened, cold pretzel that she carried in her backpack all day long. Her parents thanked her for bailing them out. —CD, Rumson, New Jersey

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Night of a lifetime

After leukemia took her mother’s life in 1985, Belinda Smith went to live with her grandmother. The two didn’t have much money, so in high school Smith had to miss out on school activities, including prom. But 24 years later Smith’s son, Danotiss, invited her to go to prom with him so she could get a second chance for what she’d thought was a once-in-a-lifetime night. “I couldn’t have asked for [a] better Mother’s Day gift,” she told KTVU.

If these stories sound familiar to you, you might live in one of the Nicest Place in America! You’re in luck because we’re on a nationwide search to find and highlight places that are full of nice people and random acts of kindness. Help us by nominating your place! If chosen as Nicest Place in America, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader’s Digest!

Hope Daniels
Hope Daniels is a contributor to's Lifestyle section, where she writes about life’s gifts and slips. From the depths of personal routine habits to a hilarious look at social blunders her articles have also appeared on partner sites, the, family and Her work in parenting and pop-culture has also been published on and ScaryMommy. She earned her BA in Journalism from Indiana University.