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Students act out in “thinking kindness”

MANITOWOC — Kids sometimes act in uncharacteristic ways because of Brian Williams. One day, an entire class of fifth-graders came to school with newly shaved heads, boys and girls alike.

Don’t worry — it was parent-approved.

One of the students’ classmates was going through chemotherapy and was afraid to come back to school after losing his hair. The students shaved their heads in an act of solidarity, to make their classmate feel welcome back at school.

This act of kindness is one of more than 125,000, large and small, that have stemmed from Williams’ “Think Kindness” program, which is in the middle of its run among nine Manitowoc-area elementary schools.

Williams, a 27-year-old martial arts black belt from Nevada, does a combination martial arts demonstration and motivational speech to kick off each school’s two-week mission: to do and document 5,000 acts of kindness and to donate 10,000 pairs of shoes to people around the world.

Students record their kind acts in journals. The target is to eventually generate one million acts of kindness, which can be as simple as holding open the door for someone.

Williams partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes shoes around the world, after two competing Think Kindness high schools came up with the idea to collect shoes, he said. Now, each elementary student is encouraged to get one person they know to send a text message, which will automatically donate $5 — enough for two pairs of new shoes — to the cause.

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