Promoting the action of doing GOOD is one of GOOD Morning Wilton’s founding principles. What rises to a higher level is to teach and reinforce our children how to do so in ways big and small.

Following the publication of our “Days of Kindness Calendar,” we heard from Steve Hudspeth, who is a member of St. Matthews Episcopal Church. He and his wife, Becky—the church’s director of children’s and youth ministries—co-teach the church’s confirmation program under the general leadership of St. Matthew’s rector, Mary Grace Williams. Hudspeth shared how the church’s confirmation class—8th graders who are generally 13- and 14-years-old—were recently challenged to do “Good Samaritan” acts each day and record them briefly on a sheet of paper, with the goal of recording at least ten in a week.

“Most of it wound up focusing on one-on-one interpersonal stuff, including even helping a sibling – who knew?! The confirmands then talked about their experiences in doing this work, and that discussion was very illuminating. The lists they prepared were really interesting,” Hudspeth explains.

Many of the teens had very similar entries, and none were “showstoppers,” according to Hudspeth. But, he says, that was not the objective of the exercise.

“Rather it was to find and do things—big if they arose, but small also was fine—that helped to make another person’s life at least a little easier or better. It was intended to be a consciousness-raising exercise so that those types of actions would become a part of our confirmands’ daily thinking and action going forward,” he says.

Seeing the things these Wilton teens view as kind acts is illuminating. Remarkably, it seems as most (if not all) were deed done without an expectation of something return. Among some of the things the St. Matthew’s teens listed as their Good Samaritan acts were:

  • Invited someone at school who was sitting alone to sit with us
  • Helped my sister with a project
  • Helped pick up a fellow student’s things when they fell in class
  • Worked on Stop Hunger Now meal packaging
  • Did a presentation for another person who was unable to do it
  • Invited someone to sit with me at lunch
  • Helped open a jammed locker for a fellow student
  • Helped my brother with his homework
  • Helped a girl at field hockey practice who no one else would work with
  • Helped out in Ambler Farms’ buddy program assisting a special needs kid
  • Went to a Peer Connections meeting on helping others
  • Talked with a new student who was being ignored
  • Found someone’s homework and returned it to them
  • Complimented someone on their clothes
  • Helped someone on the other team up from the ground during a lacrosse game
  • Found someone’s missing earring
  • Baked cookies and served them at a parents’ meeting
  • Gave a donation to an animal shelter
  • Helped clean up my sister’s room
  • Washed the windows at home
  • Helped a teacher put iPads back when no one else would stay to do it
  • Picked up and returned a friend’s jacket and lunch box they had forgotten
  • Picked up and returned a stranger’s scarf
  • Helped a fellow student study who was having trouble
  • Held a door open for a large group of people
  • Helped a friend carry large items when she was moving
  • Helped with another family’s tag sale

The confirmands were asked to do this Good Samaritan work in October leading up to the Wi-ACT Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging event on Oct. 24 in which most of them participated (several had to be out of town that day). According to Hudspeth, the list preparation was optional (that’s why it was called “the Good Samaritan Challenge” for those who wanted to take part) but most did it.

“Our confirmands were, and are, definitely challenged to keep it up during the whole confirmation year, and afterwards, but aren’t expected to keep writing it down. This exercise of recording was intended to be a sampling of what they could do if they focused on doing just one thing a day. Some said they had already been doing this kind of thing regularly anyway, though the daily recording helped to make it more intentional for them as a daily event. One I remember saying, ‘I didn’t realize how much of this I was already doing!’” Hudspeth describes.

Another observation he had was that doing the Challenge as a group exercise perhaps makes it something they feel freer to talk about among themselves—and perhaps also with their classmates outside of the confirmation program.

“Perhaps the Challenge has a multiplier effect. That would be great!” Hudspeth says.

We hope by publishing this, it will spread. Please consider sharing this with a teen you know!