Showing acts of kindness has become a staple in the lives of J.D. Lewis and his two sons.
The boys, who in 2011-12 set a world record by traveling to all seven continents in 12 months while doing humanitarian work around the globe, are now helping some of Charlotte’s youth spread the kindness locally, and globally, as well.
The effort, called Twelve Good Deeds, is an initiative by Lewis’s Charlotte-based nonprofit Twelve In Twelve and exists this semester as a pilot program in 12 schools, six being in Charlotte. The goal is to open the program in September for any school that would like to participate.
“Through this program, kids will actually see their efforts at work,” Lewis said. “They start at their school, they work in the community and then they see their impact all over the world.”
Students participating in Twelve Good Deeds start by finding 12 sponsors who will support them in completing 12 good deeds in 12 weeks. Each sponsor will pay $1 for each good deed completed, helping each student raise a total of $144 at the end of the program. The program officially kicked off last month starting with Park Road Montessori, and also is taking place in south Charlotte at Eastover Elementary and Providence Day School.
Eleven of the good deeds already are laid out for the students, including collecting canned goods for people in need, listing 12 things you like about yourself to share with someone special, spending time with the elderly, writing thank you cards and more. Each student must come up with his or her own idea for the 12th good deed.
Each student also is given an e-book, where he or she follows the global journey of the Lewis family and is introduced to different countries and cultures throughout the world. The e-book also includes a summary of the 12 global projects the Twelve In Twelve Foundation has committed to help. Money raised through Twelve Good Deeds will benefit those projects.
“Right now, global education and character development and citizenship are really big in the education realm,” Lewis said of the importance of the initiative.
The global organizations the foundation supports are based in Russia, China, Thailand, India, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Peru and Haiti, as well as an organization in Jackson, Miss.
“What I love about this program is that it’s not just one-sided. (The students) give of themselves, but also take time to be grateful for themselves and all that they give to the world,” said Kristen Piscitelli, a Park Road Montessori parent and advisor for the Twelve Good Deeds program at the school. “It’s a huge self-esteem builder. In their little minds, 12 seems enormous. But they look back and say ‘Wow, we did all that.’”
More than 100 kindergarten through sixth-grade students at Park Road Montessori are participating in the pilot program this semester, Piscitelli said. Piscitelli, along with another parent at the school, started a service club at Park Road Montessori last year. After learning about Twelve Good Deeds and talking to Lewis, Piscitelli knew the program would be a success at the school.
“Along with highlighting the good deeds, we also highlight the programs and the charities we are funding. The kids start to realize what they are supporting and are connecting the dots,” Piscitelli said.
Find out more about Twelve Good Deeds, the 12 global organizations the program supports and the Twelve In Twelve Foundation at www.twelveintwelve.org.