10-year-old who helped donate 100,000 meals is on a mission to spread kindness: ‘We are all capable of being nice people’

Orion Jean is a child on a mission. His goal: to spread kindness to as many people as possible and inspire others to do the same.

It all started last year when Orion’s Texas elementary school teacher suggested that the then 9-year-old… National Kindness Speech Contest. “I decided I would just give it a shot and see how it goes,” Orion tells Yahoo Life. He gave a speech on how kindness can ‘change a nation’, and won the competition and received a cash prize of $500.

He soon realized he wasn’t going to use all that money. ‘I am a child,’ Orion says, ‘I have everything I could ever want. But there are people who don’t.”

Orion, who says his parents taught him that “kindness is a virtue we should all try to possess,” came up with the idea of ​​the Race to kindness campaign — a series of events to help others. Orion describes Race to Kindness as “just an idea where I hoped I could spread kindness and people could join the race by spreading kindness in their own communities.”

After winning a national kindness speech contest in 2020, Orion Jean used his prize money and received donations to give more than 600 toys to hospitalized children.  (Photo: Race to Kindness)

After winning a national kindness speech contest in 2020, Orion Jean used his prize money and received donations to give more than 600 toys to hospitalized children. (Photo: Race to Kindness)

Orion decided to start helping children in the hospital who may not be able to see their families as often due to the pandemic. “What better way to distract a child’s mind from somewhere than… [with] a toy?” Orion says, adding that he hoped it would “put a smile on someone’s face.”

So Orion used his winnings to buy as many toys as possible and launched a toy campaign to collect more toys. He collected more than 600 toys, which were donated to the Children’s Health Hospital in Dallas in 2020. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he says.

But Orion had just begun. After the toy campaign, he launched an ambitious “Race to 100,000 meals” to help food insecure people in his community for Thanksgiving in 2020. “The need in my community has always been there,” explains Orion.

Orion with donated meals for Thanksgiving in 2020. (Photo: Race to Kindness)Orion with donated meals for Thanksgiving in 2020. (Photo: Race to Kindness)

Orion with donated meals for Thanksgiving in 2020. (Photo: Race to Kindness)

Race to Kindness partnered with a nonprofit based in Dallas, TangoTab, to get 100,000 meals donated and to feed people “who may not have had a meal before Thanksgiving,” Orion says. The result? “We could not only reach, but [also] exceed our goal of 100,000 meals,” he says.

In May 2021, the kindness activist decided to “Race to 500,000 books” to help families who could not afford books or lived in “book deserts”.

“I’m a huge book fan,” Orion shares, adding: “studies show that children who have books at home do better at school.”

The campaign to collect 500,000 books for donation ends on August 31, but, as Orion puts it, “We hope people continue to donate to nonprofit literacy organizations in their communities, because the race is never over.”

Orion with some of the books he collected for him Orion with some of the books he collected for him

Orion with some of the books he collected for his ‘Race to 500,000 Books’. (Photo: Race to Kindness)

To inspire other kids, the 10-year-old born leader has even written a book, A children’s book about leadership, which comes out in the fall. While Orion will no doubt continue to think of new ways to help others, he hopes all these acts of kindness inspire people to do the same. “It doesn’t have to be toys or food or books, as long as someone gets help,” Orion says. “And as long as you’re nice to someone, that counts as part of the Race to Kindness.”

Orion adds: “We are all capable of being nice people. As long as you help people and make them feel loved, that’s what matters.”

Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove.

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