Students of Mountain View High School (MVHS) recently accepted a big challenge: they want to be the kindest school in the nation.
In conjunction with Think Kindness, an organization that utilizes motivational speakers to promote generosity within high schools, students of Mountain View vowed during a Jan. 7 assembly to collect 12,000 pairs of shoes for needy children in Africa.
It’s a lofty mission, but one fitting of the MVHS Interact group that sparked the idea.
“Our school motto is ‘Do the Right Thing,’” said counselor Stacey Hackett, who oversees the group, which is dedicated to bettering the lives of others. “This campaign is about doing the right thing. It’s about paying it forward.”
In order to meet the goal, each of the 1,800 students at Mountain View would need to collect and donate about seven pairs of shoes – be it from their own closet, family members, friends, community groups, or elsewhere.
The timing was just right to start the shoe drive according to junior Hailee Kayfes, one of the project leaders. Christmas has recently come and gone, and that means many students were gifted new shoes, replacing older shoes that may never be worn again.
“It’s really easy for them to just bring them in,” said Kayfes. “We’re really trying to bring a warmer feeling to our school, to unite the school. It’s our group’s goal to make a difference in the world.”
Making a difference is a goal shared by Mike Petrone, the Think Kindness motivational speaker and five-year Army veteran who spoke at the assembly.
Petrone served two tours in Iraq, earning a Purple Heart and Commendation Medal for Valor. He was nearly killed when an explosion hit the Humvee he was riding in.
“It made me realize two things – I was alive, and I was destined for something great,” said Petrone.
That something great is to help those who are less fortunate than himself, a mission Petrone started while overseas, and one that he continues today by working on behalf of children in Kenya to fight homelessness and poverty while promoting education.
“The way for them to rise above poverty is education,” Petrone said.
Because of a minimal funding for education in Kenya, many students are not allowed to attend class due to a lack of proper necessities such as shoes.
“Think of this,” said Petrone. “The cure for cancer could be in the mind of some African boy who just can’t go to school because he doesn’t have a pair of shoes.”
With that message, Petrone encouraged students to make kindness a part of everyday life. In addition to challenging Mountain View to collect more shoes than other participating schools, he handed out Kindness Cards – trackable cards that, following an act of kindness, are passed from person to person to create a ripple of good in the community.
“Expect to do the unexpected. Go against the grain,” Petrone said. “You’re going to wonder sometimes, should I do the right thing? Do it. Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.”