Orion Jean, 10, of Fort Worth, Texas, a fifth-grader at Chisholm Ridge Elementary, collected more than 600 toys for kids at a children’s hospital, and provided more than 40,000 meals for people in need, after winning a national speech contest in which he encouraged people to “Race to Kindness.” Realizing that “the best way to spread kindness is to lead by example,” Orion started planning a series of “race” events after winning his contest, beginning with the “Race to 500 Toys.” For that toy drive, he researched toys that are both fun and budget friendly and then posted a wish list on a website that his mother created. Using his contest prize money, along with donations received through the website, Orion began shopping for toys. He also set up toy collection boxes at his school and a community center. In just over a month, Orion accumulated more than 600 toys, which he unboxed, sorted and delivered to a Dallas children’s hospital last fall.
Orion wanted to do something even bigger for his second “race,” so he embarked on the “Race to 100,000 Meals.” Partnering with an organization that collects food for the hungry, Orion filled “snack packs” with fruit, granola bars and bottles of water, and appealed to others to do the same. He then helped organized local drop-off events and pack all of the donated sack packs into delivery trucks. Drop-off events also ended up being held in other states by people inspired by Orion. At last count, Orion was well on his way to reaching his 100,000-meal goal.