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Lower Burrell 5th-grader illustrates power of kindness with cancer charity

| Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, 12:01 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Georgia Brothers, a fifth-grader at Stewart Elementary School in Lower Burrell, talks to students at Grandview Upper Elementary School in Tarentum about her charity, 'Change for Cancer' by delivering a motivational speech to students as they kick off the Great Kindess Challenge on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.

Georgia Brothers never knew her grandfather, but that didn't stop her from being inspired by him to help others.

Georgia, 11, of Lower Burrell started “Change for Cancer” in 2013 to raise money to help local people and families coping with cancer. Her grandfather, George Carter Sr., died from esophageal cancer in 1992, before she was born.

Georgia talked about her charity efforts Monday at Grandview Upper Elementary School in Tarentum, where students were kicking off their participation in “The Great Kindness Challenge,” a nationwide, weeklong event that the Highlands Area School District is taking part in for the first time this year.

Pete Brothers said he got goosebumps from the thought of his daughter, one of his six children with his wife, Carrie, being held up as an example of kindness.

“I hope she's an example of giving back and what it means to give,” he said before the morning assembly at Grandview. “She doesn't expect anything back. That's what giving is all about. I'm proud of her.”

Grandview Principal Heather Hauser said she brought The Great Kindness Challenge to her school after learning about it at a conference for elementary school principals in Nashville in the summer.

It was expanded to be held at all of the district's schools.

The challenge was designed by the California-based nonprofit Kids for Peace and is held during the last full week of January every year. In 2014, more than 550,000 students participated and performed more than 27 million acts of kindness nationwide.

“At this age, kids need to practice being kind. It's easy to think about only yourself,” Hauser said. “The idea is to remind people that kindness matters, and to improve the way people treat each other.”

As part of the challenge, Highlands students and staff will be completing acts of kindness from a checklist of 50 challenges in the schools and community this week. The checklist includes things like smiling at 25 people, recycling their trash, and saying thank you to a crossing guard.

For every five acts completed, a student can add a paper heart to a tree on a wall at their school that will “bloom” with kindness.

“It's not hard things. It's things anyone can do,” Hauser said.

Georgia, a fifth-grader at Burrell's Stewart Elementary School, wondered about what happened to people with cancer who don't have money to get help.

She wanted to help them pay the bills related to their care.

“I really wanted to help out people who have cancer,” she said.

Through fundraisers, collections and donations, Georgia's charity has raised $4,000. Her efforts have included helping a classmate with cancer whose family's car broke down, and getting a recliner for a man with lung cancer who could no longer lie down.

Georgia wants to spread her charity to schools across the Alle-Kiski Valley. Her visit to Grandview was her first foray outside her district.

In addition to acts of kindness, Grandview students will collect loose change this week as a fundraiser for Change for Cancer. The class that collects the most will win a pizza party.

“Remember, no matter how old you are, you can alwaysmake a difference,” Georgia said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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