Orion Jean, from Fort Worth, Texas, might only be 10 years old, but he has already changed countless lives.
While it’s clear from his speech and actions that caring for others has been an integral part of his upbringing and education, last year he really started taking big steps toward making an impact in his community.
It started with a student kindness competition last year. During part of his presentation, he had some encouraging words to share about taking the first steps.
“Kindness is a virtue we can all possess,” he said, according to CBS News. “If we are willing to. So why not start today? Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.”
He won. And with that $500 prize money, he set about buying and donating toys to a local children’s hospital.
Then, he helped source 100,000 meals for families in Texas.
Now, his sights have turned to literature: He wants to provide other kids with books, and he wants to collect 500,000 books. He’s calling it the “race to kindness.”
According to Facebook posts by his mother, Kherri Jean, the race is running through the end of the month, and he’s already collected over 120,000 books.
“Today was one of my favorite days!” she posted on July 31. “We held a ‘Race to Kindness’ free book fair for the children AND their parents at United Community Centers. It was so great seeing other kids enjoy looking for their new books to take home and love!
“We also received a surprise donation from Weaver of 634 books! In total, another 713 books were collected today and donated to United Community Centers.
“THIS is what the ‘Race to 500,000 Books’ is all about. We love getting these books right back out into the community and into the hands of others.”
Even if that lofty goal of 500,000 books isn’t met, Orion has done far more to put reading material into the hands of fellow children than most.
“It’s all about my moral duty to help people,” Orion told CBS. “You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”
“I want to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible.”
By all accounts, it looks like kindness is a lifelong pursuit for the boy.
“I hope that the impact that I have had is enough to keep people continuing to race to kindness and continuing to join me in this marathon because it’s not a sprint,” he said.
“It’s not a one-time thing, it’s not a three-time thing. It’s something that can hopefully be continued on for years and years to come.”
His mother says he’s got some big dreams, but she informed readers that, “[w]e still have to remind him to take the dishes out of the dishwasher and to feed the dog!”
The pride is clear in her posts, though, and who wouldn’t be proud of Orion? It’s clear that his attitude and drive are a reflection of his parents and the values they’ve modeled for their child.
Though this story’s focus might be on him, Orion is growing into someone who is focused on others.
“To say that we are proud is an understatement,” Kherri posted. “More importantly we are incredibly humbled to walk alongside this young man as he lives out his purpose in life.
“We honestly have no idea what will happen next, but whatever it is…. We will be by his side… racing with him as he follows his heart and his faith.”