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Making a difference with kindness

By Staff
Kim West
As I sat in the Phil Campbell High School auditorium Monday morning, I thought it was fitting that the Veteran's Day program I was covering was followed by remarks from principal Williams Smith and math teacher Karen Gilbert about the importance of kindness.
I thought it was appropriate because I had heard that morning about the Sunday passing of the school's 17-year-old homecoming queen, Shelby Grissom, who was diminutive in stature but had an oversized reputation for kindness and a positive attitude.
I have heard there was actually opposition to her inclusion on the homecoming court this year because of the possibility her terminal illness would win her so-called sympathy votes. I guess it would be easy to feel sorry for someone with her circumstances but I was also at the Bobcats' homecoming game Oct. 17, and other than a beaming smile that never seemed to leave her face, she didn't seem any different from the other representatives.
Not many of us can be as talented and poised as Tiger Woods or financially savvy as Warren Buffett. But we can all do the little things to make our daily lives more pleasant, especially since most of us struggle with similar problems, whether it be our health, financial situation or work and family demands.
Mrs. Gilbert talked about a program that was recently started at Phil Campbell called "10,000 Acts of Kindness," which has already produced more than 1,500 recorded acts of kindness since the beginning of November. She asked the students, "Why not try to make this a lot better place for all of us? It's the right thing to do, it makes us a lot better and it makes our school better."
I don't know if it was inspired by Grissom, but what better way to honor the memory of someone who was uniformly described as kind and thoughtful than to take a minute of your day and do something nice for someone else?
Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." I could name a lot of intelligent folks, but I have to think much harder to name people with truly giving spirits. When I think of Shelby Grissom, I'll think of how something as simple and free as being kind can leave a lasting impact on the people in your lives.