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Morgan Lynch, a Girl Scout, has spent more than a decade volunteering at St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk. For her Gold Award project, she created a sensory garden for the residents. Morgan Lynch, a Girl Scout, has spent more than a decade volunteering at St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk. For her Gold Award project, she created a sensory garden for the residents. (GSCCC photo)
2023 Sep

Spreading Kindness Brings Joy

Discover why teaching your child to be kind makes the world a better place.

For Morgan Lynch, 17, small, kind acts matter. Picking up a neighbor’s newspaper from the driveway and placing it at their front door or bringing them some home baked goodies or flowers—these are things Morgan doesn’t think twice about doing. Being kind is simply part of who she is.

“My parents raised me to respect authority and to treat everyone the way I want to be treated,” she said. “And believe me, they lead by example!”

The Virginia Beach teen started getting into the habit of doing a good deed daily through Girl Scouting, making trips to offer community service St. Mary’s Home with her mom, who was also her Girl Scout leader. St. Mary’s Home is a welcoming facility that serves severely disabled children.

“I was born into volunteering!” she said. “As a toddler, I tagged along with my older sister’s Girl Scout troop to do litter pick up, visit nursing homes and other community service. I visited St. Mary’s Home for the first time when I was six, and volunteering there just came naturally.”

As she heads to college, Morgan can look back at more than a decade of volunteering at St. Mary’s Home. She has made quilts for the children, painted lively characters on the playroom’s walls, and dedicated her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the highest award in Girl Scouts, to the creation of a sensory garden for the residents of St. Mary’s.

Being Kind Helps Us Be Happier

Kind Children Do Better in School
Sally Daniel and Friends
Sally Daniel and friends gather every Monday to make sandwiches for the needy at their church. “Doing something useful” feels good, she says. (GSCCC photo)

Science has determined kindness is one of the most powerful and positive tools for creating a happier and healthier life. In fact, performing acts of kindness is more than just rewarding—it can also improve the giver’s overall health and well-being.

The feeling of pleasure one gets from giving or receiving kindness activates the need to replicate those feelings. So, the more someone performs a kind act or experiences kindness from others, the more kindness is generated overall, making the positive benefits of kindness far-reaching.

Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, once wrote, “I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else. Kindness—that simple word. To be kind—it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind, that’s it.”

The benefits of kindness for children go even deeper. Experts have determined that practicing kindness changes the brain and provides physical and mental health benefits that can have lasting positive effects. This is why it’s essential for children to learn kindness at a young age.

“I’ve been blessed in my life,” Morgan’s mom, Jennifer, an active volunteer said. “I’ve always been involved in helping others in the community. In college, I spent time volunteering at a homeless shelter, and as a parent, I’ve been involved at my kid’s schools and volunteering in Girl Scouts. I hope I’ve been a good role model and have taught [others] that it is essential to give back.”

Children who exhibit “pro-social behavior,” such as being cooperative, helpful, empathetic, and nice, are more likely to stay in school, avoid criminal activity, avoid drug or alcohol abuse, and have better mental health as adults. With the current climate of violence in our society, raising children who are compassionate and caring is vital. Since kids learn by watching adults, it’s up to us to set the standard and model that kindness.

Being Kind Helps Us Be Healthier

“Doing Something Useful Feels Good”
Morgan Girl Scout
Morgan dedicated her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the highest award in Girl Scouts, to the creation of a sensory garden for the residents of St. Mary’s. (GSCCC photo)

Adults can actually improve their health by giving and receiving kindness. There is a link between kindness and decreased blood pressure and reduced stress levels. Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, “kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low mood, and enhance relationships in general.”

Sally Daniel of Virginia Beach worked in the counseling field throughout her career and, now that she’s retired, regularly volunteers and offers a helping hand and a kind smile to friends and strangers alike. She says once you start helping others, you just keep looking for more and more ways to make a difference.

“On almost every Monday morning, you’ll find a group of five to nine of us, mostly women, at the Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists making sandwiches for the Catholic Workers project,” she said. “We generally make close to 100 sandwiches—some peanut butter and jelly and some turkey and cheese. I originally began this when my now-35-year-old son was in elementary school. At that time, we did this in the evening. Both he and I enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the feeling of ‘doing something useful.’ Times changed and I went back to work. So, when I retired several years ago, I volunteered again. I really try not to miss a Monday. The ‘doing something useful’ still feels good.”

Sally has given countless service hours of kindness to make a difference, but sometimes simple gestures that cost you nothing have the biggest impacts. Making a point to smile—and encouraging your children to do the same when the moment and mood are right for them—is an easy way to pass on a bit of kindness and friendliness. Or displaying kindness with your words, such as greeting someone warmly and saying “please” and “thank you” when appropriate, even when ordering fast food at the drive-through!

The Girl Scout Promise “to help people at all times,” and the Girl Scout slogan, “to do a good turn daily,” are a means of codifying kindness. We all don’t have to be Girl Scouts to know that these values can make a positive impact. When we dedicate ourselves to kindness, the world around us becomes a better place.

10 Ways To Spread Kindness

Here’s How To Commit to Kindness

Kindness spreads easily! You’ll feel good passing it along. Get started with these tips:

  1. Decide to be kind upon rising. Focus. Set your mind and body on that goal for the day.
  2. Increase your awareness. Start noticing the kind acts of others. Concentrate on being kind to yourself, as well!
  3. Offer a helping hand. Assist a co-worker with a project, open a door for someone, volunteer your time or offer to babysit—or pet sit—for a neighbor.
  4. Share a smile. The simple act of turning your frown upside down can increase good feelings in yourself and others.
  5. Be a good listener. Most of the time we listen only to respond. Be present and give the other person your full attention.
  6. Send a kindness care package. Who doesn’t love getting an unexpected gift? A care package isn’t just for summer campers!
  7. Check in and stay connected. Take a few seconds to reach out to someone you know. A simple text to say “Thinking of you️” can make someone’s day
  8. Choose optimism. Make an effort to see the good side of tough situations. Being positive can help relieve stress and anxiety for everyone.
  9. Spread compliments. Be genuine in recognizing others to give them that boost of endorphins associated with a reward.
  10. Be grateful — and say so. Saying “Thank you” is the best way to keep the heart full and the kindness flowing.

In recognition of National Hunger Action Month, the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast will be collecting peanut butter during September at Mid Atlantic Dairy Queens with in-store dining, as well as at A Place for Girls.

There will also be Spread Kindness events during September to connect families with Girl Scouting. Attendees are asked to bring a jar of peanut butter to these events.

Marcy Germanotta is director of communications for Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast. For more information, please call 757-547-4405 or visit

Give Your Child a Healthy Start to the School Year

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Help ensure your child enters the new school year healthy and without delay with these tips from the Virginia Department of Health.