Kindness Activists of any age inspire me – seeing the kindness other people put out into the world really makes me motivated to be more kind myself. But when it is KIDS doing the kindness, CHILD KINDNESS ACTIVISTS, it inspires me in a special way. I guess you could say that knowing these kind kids will grow into kind adults makes me believe that our world is in good hands.
One of these inspirational, kind kids is Madelene Kleinhans. She is 14 years old and has a heart of gold and a game plan to spread kindness all over the country. And she doesn’t just sit around dreaming of how to do it, she rolls up her sleeves and gets it done!
Madelene created Heartfelt Hugs (by Madelene Cares) when she was only 12 years old. She saw a definite need and jumped in to fill it. Here’s the story:
When Madelene was 8, her little brother Addison (age 5) was diagnosed with leukemia. He had 38 straight months of treatment and (now age 12) is now in remission. But during the time he was in treatment, Madelene (who remember, was also quite young) noticed something: practically every ounce of time, attention, and support that came her family’s way was directed at Addison. Of course, that makes perfect sense: he was critically ill and needed attention. It was wonderfully kind of people to shower him with love, gifts, and support. But, secretly in the background, Madelene needed all of those things, too, and so do siblings of other sick kids. I spoke to her on the phone and you can believe me when I tell you that she is not a selfish person. She is generous, smart, and giving. But she is also HONEST, and when she told me that sometimes when her brother got so much attention, she sort of wished that she was sick. “I did not get it, I did not understand what he was going through. People brought balloons every day. Gift baskets. People would come to the house to see him. And I felt like I would get ‘wished away’. Even on my birthday he got most of the attention. I know it sounds kind of selfish, but I did not get as much attention even on my birthday. I never wished for anything bad to happen to my brother, I just wished people would give me a little bit more attention…”. It is sad to hear her express that, and obviously her brother’s well wishers did not mean to hurt her feelings, but it is understandable: her brother got all of the attention, and she is human so therefore felt left out.
|Addison in a recent photo - in remission and looking great!|
Madelene went to a three day camp for children whose siblings were critically ill run by the American Cancer Society. She really liked it, but it was shut down due to lack of funding. She remembered what a difference the camp had made for her, and she came up with an idea to help other kids whose brothers and sisters had critical illnesses. She said, “I decided instead of sitting around and just complaining about it I should start something to help kids like me get through it!”. She wanted other siblings to know they are not alone.
And that is when Heartfelt Hugs (by Madelene Cares) was born. Madelene found a way to help other kids who were thinking and experiencing the same things she had gone through to have an outlet for their feelings. The group meets every two months and hosts events like movies, roller skating, games, etc. It is a chance for the siblings of the sick children to get together, do a fun activity, and feel special. Kids whose siblings are in remission are also invited to come along. The outings give kids and their parents a chance to get together and have fun and talk. Sometimes the sick kids join in as well. Her brother is really supportive of the non-profit and helps make goodie bags, flyers, etc. He sometimes goes to the events, too. The next event in the works is an ice skating outing in January, 2017.
|A super fun Heartfelt Hugs event|
When I spoke with her one thing was very obvious: Madelene is one MATURE kid. I asked how her non-profit funds all of these outings for the kids (who do not have to pay to attend). She quickly told me, “OH! I ask for donations! I let people know that we are out there. If we are doing an event and need food, I call restaurants and tell them all about Heartfelt Hugs. I explain we give tax donation forms and see if they want to donate or not. If not that is totally fine, we understand! And for individuals who give donations – that is amazingly kind.” I asked Madelene how you, readers of the Kindness Activist project, can help out. She said you can find them on Facebook (Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares) or go to their website (http://heartfelthugs2015.weebly.com/) . She explained that they give out goodie bags at events so if you have anything that could be included in those (appropriate for ages 8 – 16) those would be great. If you have a business that could do something to support one of the outings (pizza vouchers, movie tickets, anything fun!) that would rock. And of course, I would encourage anyone who can to give a cash donation to do so. You can trust that it will be put to very good use.
|Have any goodies you can donate? Heartfelt Hugs will be sure to put them to great use!|
Madelene is “only” 14 years old. She is involved in SO MANY activities! She home schools, is involved in plays, makes her own really cool photo cards using photos that she takes and sells (I See Photography by Madelene), plays softball, and is involved in Kleinhans Kicking Cancer (look for them on Facebook), another organization her family runs (she helps make jelly and jam and art work for sales for that group, too!). But even though she already has all of that going on, she has a huge goal set for herself that I can totally see her achieving: “My goal for Heartfelt Hugs is for it to go NATIONWIDE. I would like to have a representative in EACH STATE. I want to help people not only in Colorado but people everywhere. I would like to help as many siblings as I can.”
|First Colorado - next - the whole United States!|
I asked Madelene how she thought she became such a kind person. She wasn’t sure, but said, “I guess my mom mostly… We always try to help out other people, because other people deserve it. Everyone deserves to be happy. That is the way I think.”
I agree with you, Madelene. Thanks for being such a ray of sunshine in the world. Your honesty and your action is making things better for kids.
· To view the main Heartfelt Hugs website, visit: Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares
· To follow the group on Facebook, make sure to “like” Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares
· To find out how YOU can help out the non-profit, click: How YOU can help
· To contact Madelene at Heartfelt Hugs, go to: Contact Heartfelt Hugs
· Watch a TV spot for Heartful Hugs here: Madelene on TV
· To see Madelene’s cool photo cards, like her FB page: I See Photography by Madelene Kleinhans