By Donna Marie Iadipaolo / WLD
“Anna’s Kindness” is an Ann Arbor organization dedicated to promoting more kindness in the area. Its main goal is to inspire, support, and celebrate students who volunteer to help the less fortunate. It is named after the beautiful and giving soul of Anna LeFort.
“Anna, our 12-year-old daughter, had a special passion for serving others,” explained Michael LeFort. “She was a trained volunteer at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, where we used to live in Rapid City, SD. We went there as often as we could take her to care for the dogs. She was also blessed with creativity and artistic talents and spent much of her time creating homemade cards, drawings, poems and gifts to uplift friends or to give to family members. After she passed away, we founded this organization in Anna’s name to honor her life of giving and to inspire others her age by finding and hosting volunteer opportunities.”
The organization, which is a 501(c)3 public charity established in 2017, focuses on helping those in need in a variety of important capacities. Specifically, the charity work strives to connect Anna’s age group—middle school students–with hands-on, on-site opportunities to serve those in need.
“We focus on providing face-to-face, on-site volunteer opportunities for middle schoolers to help those less fortunate, serving others at nursing centers, animal rescues, foster care facilities, and homeless shelters, just to name a few,” LeFort described. “It’s this type of direct volunteering which can have the most lasting impact on a young person. It can also be difficult to find opportunities for this age group.”
The organization has made important and notable strides within the community, and for those who give their time as well. The organization also give students a firsthand glimpse into the plight of others in their communities.
“We have hosted over 80 volunteer opportunities since we began in late 2017, which has involved hundreds of middle school students serving thousands of those less fortunate,” described LeFort. “Each year, to honor Anna on the day she passed away (April 5), we have Anna’s Day of Kindness, a supersized version of our charity where we host a dozen events in a single weekend in both Ann Arbor and Rapid City, SD where she grew up. We are currently raising money to renovate the softball field behind Forsythe Middle School so that other children can enjoy the sport that she really enjoyed.”
The organization also wants people to remember Anna as well. The parents of Anna wish to keep her memory alive by spreading Anna’s kindness and compassion in serving others.
“Anna was beautiful, precious, and talented. At a young age, she understood and loved the special feeling you get when you help others,” LeFort recalled. “Her thoughtfulness and compassion made this world a better place for those fortunate enough to know her. We miss her very much but trust that God has a remarkable young lady by his side in Heaven.”
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The organization believes, as do many others, that more kindness is needed in the world and in our own community. Reaching out and helping others is a vital way to demonstrate kindness.
“There’s never enough (kindness),” stated LeFort. “We hope that the students who volunteer with us will remember what type of impact they had, and whether they get involved with a charity when they get older, or go into a profession that serves others, or just find time to support others who do that work, we will know that Anna played a small part in helping spread that kindness.”
LeFort also has general advice for each of us to promote kindness.
“Think of others first,” he stated. “Develop or expand your own empathy and compassion. As busy as we all get, find time to volunteer to help others and pass along to your children that special feeling of serving others less fortunate.”
Visit Anna’s Kindness or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or email them at email@example.com. “Middle school parents can join our volunteer list and be notified of upcoming events,” according to LeFort. “Parents may also receive additional information if they’d like to become more involved in our organization.”