kindness activist

kindness activist

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Karing Kindness

I saw a video recently that went viral that really caught my eye – maybe you saw it, too.  It was about a little girl named KHLOE who has a project called KHLOE KARES.  Here’s the video on Pop Sugar Celebrity:  

Khloe and Khloe Kares have seriously gone VIRAL!  Her beautiful caring (karing J ) is being shared on so many different fronts!  The Huffington Post did a piece: Huffington Post piece  Cosmopolitan did a piece:  Cosmo piece (not sure how her mom feels about her daughter being called “badass” in that one!).  Even People Magazine did a feature on Khloe!  People piece

9 year old Khloe “klicked” with me for a couple of reasons.  First off, she and I share the same last name!!  And secondly, she and I both hand things out to homeless people!!  So I decided I needed to talk with this little girl to see what makes her tick.  I mean, she is definitely a Kindness Activist! 

Konnecting with Khloe via email was easy, but konnecting on the phone was much harder…  Khloe and her mom are stars right now, and I am sure their phone is ringing off the hook and they are travelling here, there, and everywhere to get the word out about Khloe Kares.  After a couple of failed attempts at talking on the phone, we settled on email.  Here’s what she and her mom had to tell me.

Khloe on a bag delivery mission!
Khloe, who will be in 4th grade when school goes back in the fall, kept walking by a homeless woman in her Irvine, California community.  So she decided to do something to help out – she started making her Kare Bags.  She and her grandma sew them out of fabric!  Isn’t that terrific??  When I hand things out to homeless people I usually put the goods into Ziploc bags, but Khloe saw the need for these women to have functional, lasting, and might I say, STYLISH bags!!!  She and her grandma have sewn 200 so far!

I asked her what exactly they put in the bags, and she told me: “We put a lot of stuff in the Kare bags like tooth brush and toothpaste, socks, lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner, feminine products, wash cloths, wipes, hand sanitizer, deodorant, first aid kits and we just added tee shirts, sun block and toilet paper“.  Isn’t that great??  I think their new additions are perfect and will really be helpful to the lucky women in California who receive them!

A very grateful recipient of one of Khloe's bags
Sharing these essential items with women gives them more than the toiletries, it gives them a connection.  I bet they are so happy to have an interaction with Khloe.  She said that giving women the bags, “Makes me feel good that I'm helping. And maybe even putting a smile on their face,” and told me that the women always tell her thank you, God Bless You, and give her hugs J .  I am guessing those hugs mean even more to them than the shampoo.

I asked Khloe’s mom to describe her daughter in 3 words and she chose:  giving, sweet, and compassionate.  Would we all like to raise children with those traits??  She told me, “It's always hard for me and her dad to take credit for Khloe and her kind spirit. She was born like that. We truly believe that God made her this way. She has always been a sweet little girl. Any advice I would give to other parents is support their dreams and visions. That's what we did. And it turned into something positive where she is helping others.” 

Khloe getting one of those hugs she mentioned!!
And when I asked if all of the recent media buzz has been difficult for such a young child, her mom said, “Khloe has always been a kind little girl. And even with all the attention she is getting she is still grounded and at the end of the day her mission is to help people.”  I say – go Khloe go!!  While other kids her age might be playing video games or watching television, she is getting out into her community and making a big difference!  And inspiring others to do the same.

Khloe wanted to make sure that people hear about another big project Khloe Kares is doing - a toy drive on July 16th. “We will be donating toys to the kids at the Raise Foundation. It's going to be a fun day and a day of giving back.”  You just know that if this toy drive is anywhere near as successful as the purses she makes, there are going to be LOTS of children made happy by her activism.

I think Khloe summed herself up perfectly when she said, “I'm just a normal kid that has big dreams. 

Way to go, Khloe.  You are an inspiration.  Thanks for shining your bright light in this world and helping so many homeless women. Your kindness has made us all, including your parents, more aware of this population that needs assistance.  Her mother said, “She has opened our eyes and she has giving us a new respect for the homeless community. Treat everyone with love and respect.”  I think we can all agree to that! 
To learn more about Khloe Kares go to:  Khloe Kares
And to donate to her GoFundMe campaign, see:  Khloe Kares GoFundMe

For other stories and photos of kindness, make sure to like our Facebook page - Kindness Activist 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Orlando Kindness

My heart has been heavy lately, thinking of the horrible events that took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  49 people were killed in an act of hatred, terrorism, and intolerance.  It was a senseless act that has caused a city, a state, the whole country to pause and take time to reflect and cry.  Like many things in America, especially in election cycles, it has also escalated political arguments about immigration and gun control. 

The purpose of this blog is not to share my personal beliefs on issues, except for my core belief of KINDNESS.  So we will let the debates that have arisen continue in other venues (with my voice being expressed loud and clear in those spaces) and let THIS SPACE be one that resonates KINDNESS.

Two beautifully kind Orlando events were shared with me today that I think shine a light on the spirit of love in that city.  My partner David has performed twice in the Orlando Fringe Festival, an annual theatre event that hosts performances from around the country.  Because we have been there for Fringe, we have made lasting friends that live in the area.  We think of them and all of those that are personally affected by this tragedy. 

The first kind Orlando action brought to my attention today are two groups working hard to ensure the funerals of Pulse victims are respectful and peaceful.  One group is Angel Action Wings for Orlando.  It consists of theatre people coming together to make sure that the funerals are not disturbed by hate groups. 

Angel Wings - full of love and peace, being modeled by Tyler Schank, Orlando performer
Modeling the back of the wings - Marlie Tollefson

Westboro Baptist Church, from Topeka, Kansas, is a “church” that appears to have hate as its core value.  They travel around the country to protest events like military funerals, concerts, etc, and have been given a permit to protest the funerals in Orlando.  But Angel Action Wings for Orlando has been busy planning, sewing, and organizing to make sure that the funeral in Orlando will be filled with love and respect instead of hate.  Patrons of the arts have donated fabric and volunteers have sewn very large angel wings (74” long and 36” wide).  Volunteers will work in shifts wearing these wings during the funeral services, using them to block out the hatred being demonstrated behind them.  Instead of hate, mourners going to the funerals will see love and peace.  THANK YOU, Angel Action Wings for Orlando.  Your kindness and warm spirits remind us that love prevails. 

These people MADE the wings.  Thank you!  (Names listed below)

Lindsay Taylor working on a set of angel wings
Human Chain Link for Pulse Funerals is another Orlando group working hard to make sure families and friends of Pulse victims can grieve in peace.  They recently had over 400 people show up with flags and signs of peace and love to block out any hatred at Orlando events.  They spread POSITIVE messages.  In this time of sadness and grieving, it is wonderful to see that some kind souls take action and do all they can to make the world a better place.

Love wins.  Human Chain Link for Pulse Funerals in action

The other beautiful example of kindness came across on a friend’s Facebook page.  Christopher Levy is very active in the Orlando Theatre community (one of his jobs is Music Director of the Winter Park Playhouse).  He shared a poignant example of a Kindness Activist in action:


“I went to Office Depot this evening to pick up an ‪#‎OrlandoStrong banner for the Playhouse. It was going to be my contribution. When I went to pay, the woman behind me in line asked to pay for it. I said "Oh, thank you, but it's okay, this is my donation" and she insisted on paying. I broke down. I could barely get out anything beyond "thank you". We hugged. And I'm posting this because it's important that a) just when you think you're okay, you're not, and b) to counter all the stories of unfathomably heinous behaviour shown by some people, and show that there is still good in the world. Anne Frank was right.

Such a simple yet amazing action by the woman in the store.  Her kindness inspired not only Chris, but the hundreds of people who have read the post and will hear the story.  THANK YOU, unknown woman at Office depot.  Your kindness makes a difference in the world. 

Chris with the sign at the theatre - THANK YOU kind woman in Office Depot!
Orlando, we are thinking of you, grieving with you.  #OrlandoStrong  #OrlandoUnited


OneOrlando is a group that has been set up to provide support to victims and their families.  Please visit their site and donate if you are able:

Angel Wings for Action has a long history of supporting funerals and events that are protested by hate groups.  They began after the founder,  Romaine Patterson, was shocked to see the hate filled neon signs of Westboro Baptist church at Matthew Shepard’s funeral.  Read about Angle Wings for Action here:

The Orlando Playhouse will host a benefit event for victims on June 23, 2016.  Please see this article to learn more about it and attend if you can:  Winter Park Concert for One Orlando

Names of those pictured in the photo of angel wing makers:  Front-Piper Tollefson, Mollie Tollefson, Marlie Tollefson, Becca Haskins, Jeannie Marie Haskett Back-Shaina Tollefson, Simone Smith, Kristina Tollefson and Misha Tollefson   Not pictured: James Erwin and Delson Junker

Article on the Westboro protest, and the Angel Wing action:  Angels to Block WBC

Thanks to Jeannie Marie Haskett for photos

Victims of attack on Pulse Nightclub:
  •  Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
  • Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
  • Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
  • Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
  • Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
  • Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
  • Cory James Connell, 21 years old
  • Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
  • Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
  • Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
  • Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
  • Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
  • Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
  • Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
  • Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
  • Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
  • Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
  • Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
  • Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
  • Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
  • Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
  • Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
  • Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
  • Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
  • Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
  • Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
  • Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
  • Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
  • Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
  • Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
  • Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
  • Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Croc Kindness

My friend Jody heard about this project and introduced me to her sister Amy.  Amy is most definitely a KINDNESS ACTIVST, and I was thrilled to hear her story.

Amy and her husband have two adorable children, Lilia (age 11) and Kaiser (age 6).  Both were adopted – Lilia from Russia and Kaiser from Ethiopia.  So just that fact, that this family is open-hearted enough to adopt two children, makes me smile.

Beautiful family with huge hearts
But there is much more to the story…

When Amy and her husband went to Ethiopia the first time, they were struck by the kids’ SHOES.  Amy told me that the kids they saw were wearing shoes that were way too small, much too big, or had big holes in them.  Some of the children only had ONE SHOE.  Amy’s husband said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could collect a bunch of shoes to bring back to Ethiopia on our second trip?”.

You get where this is going…  And it is terrific!

Amy says, “We just had it in our heart that this is what we were supposed to do.”  So do it they did!  They set a goal of collecting 100 shoes to bring to Ethiopia (which Amy was secretly doubtful they could make).  They decided to collect CROCS, because most of the kids they saw did not have socks so Crocs would be a good shoe for them. 

They set their sights on 100 pairs of Crocs...
They made pleas to their families, their church members, and everyone they could contact via Facebook to donate shoes.  Their Croc collection for those little kids in Ethiopia was ON! 

And here is the amazing part:  they collected 377 pairs of Crocs!!!!!!!! Crocs of all colors!  Beautiful, sturdy, functional CROCS!!  Amy says, “God provides, and we felt awesome.  We felt like even through the little things, God shows that he does care.  He cares about people far away.  He cares enough to pull our hearts towards kindness and giving”.

Now THAT is a lot of CROCS!!
They brought so many shoes to Ethiopia with them that every single child in the orphanage where they were adopting their son Kaiser got a pair!  Not only that, they had even MORE shoes to give to several other orphanages in the area!!  “The kids were ecstatic!  When they came out with their shoes on, they were all smiles and so thankful,” Amy told me.

Little feet in little Crocs!
 (They could not take photos of children's faces other than their own son)
Isn’t that just great??  They gave one child a forever family – a brand new life.  And they gave all of the children at the orphanage a beautiful gift of sturdy shoes. 

How could you NOT fall in love with this cutie????  Here is Kaiser in a pile of Crocs!  :)
Like almost every Kindness Activist I have interviewed for this project, Amy downplayed her story.  She said that they were more blessed by the experience than the kids.  And she stressed how much need there is in the world, “Even if we worked every day for the rest of our lives, the need would still be great”.  This is, of course, very true.  But it is people like Amy and her family that help put a dent in that need and serve as shining examples to the rest of us. 

And, as icing on their kindness cake, they also brought 300 Matchbox cars to hand out in Ethiopia.  J 

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Amy.  If you know of a Kindness Activist, please tell me about them!  Email me at  And be sure to “like” us on Facebook (Kindness Activist).