SOL 27/15 The Generosity of Strangers

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Super Onion Girl

 Our first gift of onions from, Super Onion Girl.

This year my students and I learned about the power that can come from the generosity of strangers. Next week I meet with a gifted landscaper to go over designs for a new school garden. Out of all the donations our school has received because of a silly onion theft, this garden is the icing on the cake.

Last September during the first week of school our garden bed of onions was stolen. This turned into a big deal because 1/2 of these onions were going to a local homeless shelter and the other 1/2 were going to our school cafeteria. We got national attention. Everyone seemed to have heard about and cared about our stolen onions. It was really quite amazing. We received an equally amazing amount of onions and we donated all 1,ooo pounds of them. They came from as far away as Washington State and as close by as Liberty Maine. We received a generous check from a former Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as funds from the passing of a Boy Scout hat at a troop meeting in Colorado. It was something quite out of the ordinary for my kids to experience. They, we, were dumbfounded.

But the most amazing thing to watch was the response from my students. They were in awe by the amount and variety of generosity we received from so many people, and most of them strangers. “Why?” they asked. “Why do so many people care about us?”  I told them it was because it happened to a group of good kids. Kids who care enough to plant, tend, and grow onions to give to others. All those people wanted the kids to know that there are good, kind, giving people out there and that not everyone does hurtful things.

So next week I meet with our final gift. The landscaper who is installing an anonymous gift of a new garden. This is a big deal because our school playground is asphalt. Not the nicest playground by any stretch of the imagination. It has a few raised beds that we garden in but nothing we could call a “real” garden. Very soon that is about to change and to say we are excited by this is an understatement.

Not all strangers are bad. Many, many are awfully good. Good, and kind, and generous.



19 thoughts on “SOL 27/15 The Generosity of Strangers

  1. Too often we focus on STRANGER DANGER with kids. Of course we don’t want kids talking to people they don’t know when they aren’t by our sides, BUT I think it’s so important for people to know and see how people they don’t know personally might want to help them or do something nice just because. This is a lovely slice. Thanks for sharing it with us today, Mary. You’re transforming the way your kids look at ‘strangers.’

    • It’s interesting you said this Stacey. I teach kids who struggle to learn. It would be easy to teach them “steps” in all that they do. And sometimes I do because that’s the necessary starting point. But working to teach them to think and changing how they think seems to me to be the most powerful way to affect their future. That’s what I go for. So thank you for your comment. While stranger danger is real and all kids need to be cautious with strangers, there’s a “freeing” from knowing that many people are good, kind, and caring. I believe that opens the doors for them to be that kind of person too.

    • And maybe that’s why it went viral. First it was the negative aspect of the theft but then the kindness and generosity of strangers is what really took off 🙂

  2. I love a great “kindness of strangers” story! Had to read your post after the one I wrote awhile back on onion sandwiches; one doesn’t find “onion” in a title very often. I’m glad your students got to experience this outpouring of kindness after modeling generosity from your garden. Hope you post pictures of the new plantings!

  3. I’m tempted to leave a comment about the layers of an onion being complex and many-faceted …. but wow … that is an interesting story and shows the power of caring and the power of the media spotlight, right?

    • Oh, we’ve compared many of these events to layers of onions!! How can we not, right? Yes, social media is what made this go viral. When I got a text from my daughter in Florida asking,”What the heck is going on up there with those onions?” I knew something was happening. When the A.P. and MSNBC’s webpage grabs it…wow…lightning sparks! We just stood back and watched with our mouths wide open.

    • Thanks! It’s been a wonderful experience for all. Especially in a time when social media can be so negative. The strangers showed the kindness, we just watched it unfold and recorded it. 🙂

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