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Southmoreland student group specializes in random kindnesses

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:02 p.m.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
Among the Southmoreland High School students involved in 'Random Acts of Kindness' are, from left: Casie Overly, Samantha Gray and Matthew Kinter.

There's a group of students at Southmoreland High School who are performing wonderful acts for no other reason than just to be nice.

It's the Random Acts of Kindness group, comprised of a handful of these students. The group is in its first year at the school, but already has done a few small things to show it is true to its name.

“It began as a way of doing small, random nice things for others,” explained Tawnia St. Amant, assistant high school principal and advisor for the group. “We started by leaving candy on kids' desks at Halloween with a little message on it. It's just a group of kids that want to make a difference through kindness.”

By the way, the message stated, “This little treat is not a trick. Just do something kind and do it quick.”

Teacher Jenna Hixson is working with St. Amant on this endeavor and said this group reminds her why she wanted to teach at the high school level.

“Some of our teenagers are the most caring, compassionate people that I know,” Hixson said. “This group is not officially a ‘club,' but instead just random people who get together to do good things. Students are not obligated to attend meetings or be a part of every project, but instead are invited to show up when they can.”

Other activities in which students have participated include a change drive around Christmas in which jars of change were left on the porches of those in need. Plus, students created binders filled with articles of random acts of kindness and “paying it forward.” These were dropped off at local businesses and doctor's offices for people to read while waiting.

“We were suppose to leave them there to move people to do something that's positive,” said freshman Matthew Kinter.

“We want people to pay it forward,” added fellow freshman Casie Overly. “We want them to be able to read it and inspire them to do something, even if it's just something small to help somebody out.”

There's also been pencils donated to incoming freshmen and gift-wrapping at a local Barnes & Noble.

The goal is 500 random acts of kindness by the end of the school year.

A typical meeting of the group is attended by anywhere from 10 to 30 students, some of whom are at every meeting.

“Every time we meet we try to bring some different ways to do kind acts in our community and in our school, sort of randomly,” said sophomore Samantha Gray. “There's no real signup. If you want to be involved in this month's activity, just come and do some random acts.”

Overly admitted she enjoys community service so the group was of interest to her.

“It makes me feel I make a difference for somebody,” she said. “A goal in my life is to make a difference in peoples' lives. When I do something like that, it makes me feel good about myself.”

Kinter was already involved in Reading Buddies, a group spearheaded by Hixson. Since he's usually involved with something at the school after school hours, he thought Random Acts of Kindness would be another good venture.

“I figured if I could spend an hour in (Hixson's) room to help affect people positively, I might as well do it,” he said.

St. Amant said she's seen these type of activities done at other schools and they help present a positive message and leave students with a good feeling.

Her goals for the group are simple — encourage kindness and positive behavior, think about others and give students an opportunity to change their world.

What she has seen so far from this group has made her quite proud.

“We have great kids who want to change the world,” St. Amant said. “They care about others, and they want to help. As advisors, all we have to do is say we're thinking about passing out candy, and the kids will bring in dozens of bags and work for hours to make labels. These kids want their world to be better and they're doing something about it. I'm always proud when we see any of our students exhibiting positive behaviors.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or

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