Meet 5 Kids Who Are Spreading Kindness in Their Towns: 'There's Always Something You Can Do' (Exclusive)

“Kindness has a ripple effect,” Connor Wright, 14, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue

<p>Courtesy Connor

Courtesy Connor's Kindness

Connor Wright and grandmother Sharon Marrama, who started Connor's Kindness Project

In this week's issue, PEOPLE is celebrating big-hearted individuals who are making life better for others through acts of compassion and humanity — including five kids spreading kindness in their towns.

One of those children is Connor Wright, who started a non-profit organization that gives thoughtful, curated kits filled with games and toys to kids in hospitals and shelters throughout New England. He also started a kindness club for elementary school students, which he hopes to expand nationwide.

“Kindness has a ripple effect,” Wright, 14, tells PEOPLE. “There’s always something you can do.”

Related: How Rylyn, 10, and Raegan Richins, 13, Turned Their Hometown Into the Kindness Capital of Kentucky

A group of 12-year-old girls in Kentucky have also found that to be true at their school. They started The Kind Line, a hotline, where students can call and hear an uplifting inspirational quote, a joke, and a friendly voice telling them to have an awesome day.

“We were really surprised to see people be so interested and wanting to spread kindness,” says one of the Kind Line founders, Campbell Goins.

For more on the Kindness Awards, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

A Kindness Club

Wright spent his childhood volunteering with his family. During the pandemic, Connor and his grandmother pledged to do something kind for someone else every month. They started by creating and dropping off care packages of toys to kids stuck at home during pandemic lockdown. that grew into Conner’s Kindness Project, which officially became a non-profit in August 2021.

“When I do something kind for somebody else, it makes me feel good knowing I'm helping others,” says Wright, a high school freshman in Lynnfield, Mass.

<p>Courtesy Connor's Kindness</p> Connor Wright

Courtesy Connor's Kindness

Connor Wright

He held lemonade stands and garage sales to raise money for the first 250 Kindness Kits — a carefully curated box filled with pop-it’s, Legos, card games, putty, a foldable telescope, crayons, coloring books and more. Each box comes with a note saying: “We hope this makes you smile and brings you hours of fun.” On the back, was the message: “You are loved.”

He has gifted more than 5,000 to children in hospitals and shelters in New Hampshire. “We continuously get emails from parents saying, ‘Thank you for this, this really made our kids day!’" he says.

Last year, Wright and his grandmother even launched a Kindness Club at local elementary schools. Members pledge to be kind — and are challenged to do 20 acts of kindness, from writing a thank you note to their teacher to making their bed without being asked.

“Even if you do something small,” Wright says. “Even if you're not doing that much, it still helps.”

Related: Celebrate International Day of the Girl with PEOPLE's 2023 List of Girls Changing the World (Exclusive)

During the past academic year, 4,000 students joined and completed 80,000 acts of kindness.

Connor hopes to keep growing his non-profit and “spread kindness throughout the country.”

“We want everybody to wake up every day and think, 'What’s something kind I can do today?’" says his grandmother, 66-year-old Sharon Marrama.

A Call for Kindness

Middle School is often a place where kids are mean, so four 12-year-olds at Bondurant Middle School in Frankfurt, Kentucky created a hot line students can call when they need to hear a friendly voice.

Collingsworth and three friends — Eleanor Bishop, Avery Bishop, and Campbell Goins — noticed some kids looked lonely, sitting by themselves and not connecting with others. With the help of their school guidance counselor, the friends created The Kind Line to “spread kindness,” says Goins.

Kids can call 502-661-3001 and hear a pre-recorded message with an inspirational quote, and a joke. The friends record new messages on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“Our most recent quote is always walk toward the sunshine so that the shadows will fall behind you,” Goins says. “It's very inspiring and positive.”

<p>Linda Younkin/State Journal</p> (L-R) Campbell Goins, Avery Bishop, Emma Collingsworth and Eleanor Bishop

Linda Younkin/State Journal

(L-R) Campbell Goins, Avery Bishop, Emma Collingsworth and Eleanor Bishop

The district’s superintendent was so impressed with the program, stickers were printed to affix to the school-issued laptops with The Kind Line’s number.

"A lot of great things are growing out of what they've started,” says Bondurant Middle School Principal Enoch Welch.

The Kind Line has inspired other students to spread kindness, for example, one started a peer-tutoring program.

“The ray of sunshine that they breathe into these kids,” says Welch, “has really inspired others to do the same.”

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