OAK RIDGE, N.C. -- When Brian Henderson, a seventh grade student at Oakridge Middle School, first heard about Rachel’s Challenge earlier in the school year, he was at a loss for words.
"It touched me in the heart. I'm not sure how to explain it,” Henderson said. “But one thing I can tell you is I'm just amazed at how Rachel has done all these nice deeds. I think it has touched other people in the hearts everywhere around the world."
Rachel was the first victim of the deadly Columbine High School shooting in 1999. But before she died, she wrote about being compassionate and nice to others and starting a chain reaction of kindness.
Students at Oakridge have taken that lesson to heart. They’ve gone beyond the classroom to helping complete strangers in the community.
And some did it while they were on winter break.
"I was sitting in a mall. My mom, she was getting her hair done and there was a lady who had forgotten her purse. I saw her. She just left her purse on the bench. I ran up to the purse and brought it back to her,” said Henderson.
Student Jackson Saftner remembers something simple that he did.
"One time we went to Starbucks and I held the door for like a line of people and a lot of people were like hey, thank you,” Saftner said. "It's easy. You just have to do one simple small thing and you can make an entire change in how someone acts."
And that’s the point. That’s why students at Oakridge have created a chain of kindness like Rachel wrote about. Each link represents something nice a student did for someone else.
"I have seen a huge difference from when Rachel’s Challenge came. It was amazing considering how people act now to how they acted before Rachel’s Challenge came,” said Henderson.
"Seeing all these good deeds that people have done right here, I mean, that makes me happy that our generation would do such great things for others,” Saftner added.