Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Are You Waiting For? -Francesca Coyne Introduction

Hi! I'm Francesca Coyne, and I'm a student at the Downingtown STEM Academy. I am a firm believer in the fact that small, random acts of kindness can go a very long way.

The Beginning

     During last school year, we were given an assignment that required us to create a Public Service Announcement. I had been waiting for such an opportunity for a while, so I took it and ran with it. The topic I chose was "Random Acts of Kindness."  I spent the Saturday after the project was assigned purchasing flowers and giftcards, and, later, I left them around my neighborhood with notes attached to them that read, "Smile, happy looks good on you! Please accept this random act of kindness, and have a wonderful day." I also went to a few local franchises and paid for the people in line behind me. Everything I did was anonymous. Each time I performed a random act of kindness, I stayed behind for a while to see people's reactions. It was so rewarding to see people smile! The most rewarding part of my experience was that I got to be the start of a chain reaction. I could see that my acts of kindness were starting to spread. For example, a neighbor of mine posted a picture of a gift card she received on Instagram. Automatically, about 150 people saw what I had done, and it inspired them to go out and make other people happy. That was the moment that I realized that I wanted to be an advocate for random acts of kindness. It's not hard to make someones day, and it feels amazing to know that you are making a great contribution to the world. Lunchbox Notes is the perfect way to do that.

Why Wait? 

    The question that I keep asking myself is, "What were you waiting for? Why did I wait this long for an opportunity to present itself? Why didn't I have the courage to go out and just do it?" I kept asking myself why it took me so long to realize that it's better to be happy, and its better to put myself in a position where I want to make other people happy, too! I wondered why it took me 16 years to make the decision to start changing the world, because let's face it: if you aren't doing anything to help make the world a happier place, you are just as bad as someone who is trying to keep the world in a dark place. So, I decided to ask my little siblings a couple questions. I recorded their answers, and this is how the conversations went:

Conversation with my 6-year-old sister:

Me: Do you think there are people in the world who might be sad?

Sister (S): It's a happy life, so, probably not.  There are probably SOME that are sad but... not really.

Me: Do you think that you can help the sad people?

S: I don't know where they are. I don't have the money to go to find them.

Me: How do you make someone happy?

S: You cheer them up with a present or something they really need.

Me: Do you think you have to give someone a present to make them happy? What makes you happy?

S: Being with my family, everybody that I have to play with, and my friends.

Conversation with my 9-year-old sister:

Me: Do you think there are people in the world who are sad?

Sister (S):  Well, yeah.

Me: What's stopping you from helping them?

S: What is a fourth grader supposed to do?

Me: Well, what is a fourth grader supposed to do?

S: I can't solve world hunger or stop global warming or anything. It's too big of a job for a little fourth grader like me... If I wanted to stop puppy mills I probably couldn't because there are people who want puppy mills for money.

Me: Are you happy? How do you know?

S: Yes. Because there is a feeling inside of me that tells me I'm happy.

Me: Is there anything else stopping you from making sad people happy?

S: I don't have any money and I'm just a fourth grader.

Me: If you could do anything in the world to help sad people, what would you do? If you had all of the money and people in the world?

S: Bring in helicopters and shoot down confetti and play music!

Me: Do you think it's hard to make people happy?

S: No...well sometimes. If they were like super duper duper unhappy.

Me: So then what do you do?

S: Try super duper hard to cheer them up!

Me: If you could send a message to the whole entire world what would it be?

S: Love each other.

My Conclusion

It's a shame that my little siblings have already been affected by limitations. They said they don't think they are capable of accomplishing great feats because they don't have money or a ton of supporters, and they think they are limited by there size. They believe they are smaller and younger, therefore inferior. They have the desire and ambition to do amazing things, but society has forced them to believe that they have to wait until they are older in order to start changing the world. That's where we fail. The smartest, most optimistic, and most honest people in the entire world are kids. Why don't we shoot down confetti and play music? Why don't we all love each other? Why do we keep saying to ourselves, "It's not that simple," and give up? It's about time we put our heads together and made it that simple. Simplicity is key. That's what makes these kids such geniuses! They know how to live simply.

The Biggest Misconception

You don't have to have money in order to do a random act of kindness. There are a MILLION different ways that you can spread joy and make someone's day that don't involve money:
  • Be sincere - Tell someone to "Have a great day", but don't say it because its the polite thing to do, do it because you mean what you're saying! 
  • Smile - Something as simple as a smile can be seen from miles away. A smile is contagious and smiling will automatically make someone feel better.  
  • Let someone know they matter- Remind a person of their significance. Because everyone need to know that they are important.
  • Offer to give someone a hand- go out of your way to do something that means something to another person. 
You can help promote happiness in the world with those ideas and so many more. I dare you to take the Lunchbox Notes Challenge! Get out there and perform a random act of kindness. 

OH! and one more thing.

Love Each Other.

Francesca Coyne
Follow Lunchbox Notes on Twitter @YouMatterLBN

Monday, June 10, 2013

Our Introduction Video!

Hi readers! Thanks so much for all the support! The outpouring kindness we're receiving is inspiring us to keep working on this organization. Remember to keep spreading your kindness: you can start a chain reaction that could change the world.

Andre Morris, one of the co-founders of Lunchbox Notes, took the time to put together this amazing video for our Quest2Matter submission. We hope you enjoy it. Please share it with your friends and family!

Also, we put together another video about what the two days of Quest2Matter meant to us. We would like to thank Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter for making this all possible. Just the fact that we knew someone believed in us gave us the desire to make a lasting difference. Angela Maiers published a blog post of her own along with our video on the page provided below. See the link if you're interested!

Remember to follow us on Twitter @YouMatterLBN !

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Challenge You- Abby Savidge Introduction

Hey! I'm Abby Savidge and I am a 16 year old at the Downingtown STEM Academy. I am an athlete (playing both lacrosse and field hockey) and I am involved in student council, (Co-President of Spirit Committee), etc. 

Together, we're going to change the world. Cliche? Yes, but I truly believe it. I have realized that you can't change someone's circumstances, home life, etc, but you CAN make their life a little bit better. Making a difference in ONE person's life is enough to motivate me to do whatever I can. Hopefully the person that you helped will be inspired to make someone else's life better as well - a chain reaction.

What inspired me?
A little while ago, I heard the story "An Invisible Thread" about a women named Laura who saved a little boy, Maurice, from his life on the street by a simple act of kindness. The story is difficult to put into words of my own, so above is a link to information and the video!

What really touched me was this: after the boy had been adopted and enrolled in school, Laura asked whether he wanted her to pack his lunch or give him money to buy lunch. The boy said "Would you please pack my lunch in a brown paper bag so that the kids at school will finally know that I have someone who loves me?"
The brown paper bag is symbolic of compassion and love- it means that someone cares about you. Someone took the time to make the lunch. This story and idea of the significance of a brown paper bag is what inspired Lunchbox Notes. However, we expanded lunchbox notes to be broader than keeping children from going hungry. Now, the brown paper bag (lunchbox) symbolizes acts of kindness and compassion to show someone that they matter. Everyone matters and deserves to know it. 

The Challenge
So, here is my challenge to you. This organization represents spreading happiness, impacting someone else's life for the better, and showing everyone that their existence matters. It's 3 simple steps:
  1. Find a brown paper bag (or something along those lines).
  2. Write down a quote, inspirational message, or put something in it that would make someone happy.
  3. Give it to a random stranger with the words "Lunchbox Notes" on the outside and "You Matter" to tell someone that THEY are important to this world and that they can brighten someone else's day as well. 
The goal is to have a chain reaction that will spread and leave people in the mindset that they can help someone. If everyone shows a little bit of compassion, the world will change. People will be happier. The smallest actions create the biggest effects. 

You don't have to change everyone's life- you just have to change a few and it'll be worth it. 

Do something kind for a random stranger or someone that you dont know that well and SHARE WITH US (via twitter or in email)! Share what you did or what act of kindness that someone else did for you (hopefully involving the lunchbox notes!) It's amazing the power of the smallest actions. Impact the world and spread the joy! Anyone can share a smile or a kind word- that's something that EVERYONE can do. That is my challenge to you- do a random act of kindness.

Abby Savidge
Follow Lunchbox Notes @YOUMatterLBN
Follow me @AbbSAVvy

Light the World on Fire - Carrie Filion Introduction

Aloha, my name is Carrie Filion and I'm a sixteen year old co-founder of Lunchbox Notes and a sophomore at the Downingtown STEM Academy. I volunteer as a juniour counselor at a children's art camp and plan to bring Lunchbox Notes to the children I teach to (hopefully) have them create notes of their own. I hope to someday work for NASA - but before I can explore the depths of the unknown, I need to create a happier and more meaningful environment on the beautiful planet we call home.

I truly believe that happiness radiates through actions: if you make one person happy you can spread that happiness to the world. It isn't about traveling to third-world countries or spending a lot of money. It's the simple act of writing someone a note to say that it's all going to be okay and that they are something special. One's happiness and sense of worth is not reflected by how fortunate they are or where they live, and we as founders saw this truth of life and created the the Lunchbox Notes project to reach all who need happiness. Within the next few months, Lunchbox Notes will be brought to our schoolmates, our fellow city dwellers, and beyond. Wherever we are going, we are taking Notes - from Italy and Guatemala to Philadelphia and our own neighbourhoods.

By dreaming big and starting small, we hope to fulfill our dream of spreading happiness - not only to those surrounding us, but to those in the farthest reaches of the globe. If we each perform one single act of kindess and give one single bag a day, over 3,000 lives will be reached by the end of a year. If, in turn, half of the people that receive a bag give a bag of their own to someone else, over 6,000 people will be reached. Our one simple act a day sets off a butterfly effect that can eventually and hopefully reach across the globe. A simple note may not be life-changing to some, but to others it could be exactly what they need to stay alive and stay dreaming.

By making Lunchbox Notes anonymous, it allows the project to be about the happiness of others instead of one's own pride. As Siddhartha said: "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of that candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." A wildfire is started with a single ember, one match can ignite a forrest. You have the power to spark happiness in one person - and in turn start a wildfire. Now its our turn to light the proverbial match, and we hope we can inspire others to light their own.

~ Namaste 
Carrie Filion
Follow Lunchbox Notes @YOUMatterLBN
Follow me @CarrieonWayward

All It Takes - Ben Wooten Introduction

Hi everybody!

My name is Ben Wooten, and I am a 16 year old at the Downingtown STEM Academy in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I am incredibly passionate about my academics and lacrosse.

I am also passionate about our mission. With our Lunchbox Notes project, together we can spread smiles, happiness, and love around the world. All it takes is a simple, thoughtful action to make someone's day or change their attitude completely. We dream of a world where smiles are genuine, and happiness isn't rare. With your help, our dream can become a reality. Spread the love!

Ben Wooten
Follow Lunchbox Notes on Twitter: @YOUMatterLBN
Follow Me on Twitter: @ben_wooten1

Impossible? Just Watch Us. - Livvy Evans Introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Livvy Evans and I am one of the co-founders of Lunchbox Notes. I'm 16 and go to the Downingtown STEM Academy and I'm involved in volleyball, softball, and student council.

The vision for Lunchbox Notes is one that I found truly inspirational. Who can't remember a time when his or her day was absolutely made by someone's kindness? Whether it be a compliment, a small treat, or knowing that you have someone there for you, some aspects of life are complete game-changers in the complex world of human emotion. The most powerful characteristic of this project: it empowers people just for being a human being. Simply by being alive, you are empowered with the unshakable force to make someone's day. You never know when that simple act of kindness could change a day, change a life, or change the world.

We have set out to spread kindness around the world. With the implementation of the Lunchbox Notes mission, I can see greatness beyond our wildest dreams. We don't only want to reach people in our direct community, we also want to extend our program to those less fortunate around the world. This summer, I will have the opportunity to go on a service trip to Guatemala through Global Leadership Adventures. During the trip, I will be working with children at a school in rural Guatemala, and I plan to get the other GLA students involved to create Lunchbox Notes bags with messages in Spanish for these kids that deserve them more than anyone I can think of.

I am beyond excited for this to take off. I truly believe that every single bit of greatness that has ever occurred in the world has started with the phrase, "I have an idea." This is ours. And to those of you reading this that think we're crazy? I have 2 things to say: 1) You're right. 2) Just watch us.

Livvy Evans
Follow Us on Twitter @YouMatterLBN
Follow Me on Twitter @L0ng_LIV

Opportunity to Obligation - Mitch Brown Introduction

Hi, my name is Mitch Brown. I am currently a student at the Downingtown STEM Academy. I am involved in the Downingtown West Marching band and Crossfit outside of school.

Through the project  Lunchbox Notes, I feel that we have the ability to change a person's day with a simple act of kindness. Because this amazing opportunity has been placed in front of us, we not only have the motivation to complete the project, but we feel an obligation to assist our community.