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#26Acts of kindness: San Antonio third-graders rack up 115 good deeds

Susan Garcia

A third-grader at Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas wrote this message about the value of performing acts of kindness for others.

After covering the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., NBC News’ Ann Curry wondered what could be done to ease the national suffering over the loss of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why not, she tweeted, commit to doing one act of kindness for every child killed there? People responded — and wanted to up that to 26 acts of kindness for every child and adult lost at the school. Now people around the country are committing random acts of kindness — connected through the hashtag #26Acts (#20Acts and others are also trending). Get inspired: You can start your own acts of kindness right now.

Like many school teachers across the country, Susan Garcia was nervous. On the Monday after the unthinkable school massacre in Connecticut, how would she handle the inevitable tears and questions from her third-grade students? What could she possibly say?

Then she saw a tweet from NBC News’ Ann Curry. The tweet mentioned the idea of doing 26 acts of kindness in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Garcia thought, “That’s it!”

“I knew this could be a way to spread positivity at our school and honor those victims,” said Garcia, 44, a teacher at Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas.

She sat down with her 8- and 9-year-old pupils on Monday and floated the idea of doing random acts of kindness throughout the week.

“They ran with it,” Garcia said. “They are SO excited.”

The kids enthusiastically began dreaming up thoughtful deeds they could do for teachers, students, school administrators, custodians, parents, siblings and others. Their ideas included:

  • Give someone a hug.
  • Give someone a smile.
  • Meet someone new at recess and play together.
  • Make Christmas cards for parents, teachers, custodians and others.
  • Pick up some trash.
  • Take someone’s tray for them at lunch.

Inspired by Curry’s original tweet, Garcia did some sleuth work online to find ways to make the random acts of kindness concept resonate with 8- and 9-year-olds. She found ideas on Pinterest and on the blog 3rdGradeThoughts.com, which ran a post about orchestrating Random Acts of Classroom Kindness at school and having students log their kind deeds on Random Acts of Classroom Kindness, or “RACK,” sheets.

Susan Garcia

Third-graders filled out "RACK sheets" like this one and logged their kind deeds throughout the week.

By the end of this week, Garcia’s class collectively completed 115 acts of kindness.

“They want to keep doing this in January after we come back from (winter) break,” Garcia said. “I told them, ‘We don’t have to stop! We can definitely keep doing it if we want!’

“We were all so shocked and devastated by what happened. This has been a way to turn it into a positive.”

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There are many questions about Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but one being asked by just about everyone is how to best honor the victims. In Newtown and across the country, random acts of kindness are being performed in the memory of each person lost. NBC's Andrea Canning reports.