Kindness Matters: Cheerleaders collect items to honor teacher, son

The+cheerleaders+gather+around+the+collection+of+items+donated+by+students%2C+organizations+and+faculty+throughout+the+Kindness+Matters+campaign.+Running+from+mid-November+to+Dec.+5%2C+the+cheerleaders+donated+the+items+on+Dec.+9.+Photo+by+Sierra+Schuman.+

The cheerleaders gather around the collection of items donated by students, organizations and faculty throughout the Kindness Matters campaign. Running from mid-November to Dec. 5, the cheerleaders donated the items on Dec. 9. Photo by Sierra Schuman.

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Former Klein teacher Jacki James organized a campaign called Kindness Matters, dedicated to spread kindness and put an end to bullying, to “Be Buddies, Not Bullies”. Under the guidance of the cheerleading organization, the Kindness Matters campaign kicked off at Klein mid-November and continued until Dec. 5.

On Oct. 13, Jacki lost her son 13-year-old son Peyton. He succumbed to injury he inflicted upon himself in response to being bullied.

“We thought it was a great cause, and to honor Peyton and Ms. James, we would do it here at Klein,” Kelli White, freshman cheer coach and U.S. History teacher, said. “We saw it as a good opportunity to help out and to work with the anti-bullying campaign that the district is trying to push.”

During Peyton’s hospitalization, Jacki and her ex-husband David James, assistant swim coach at The Woodlands College Park High School, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, a charitable “home away from home” for families of hospitalized children in the Texas Medical Center. While there, travel-sized toiletries such as shampoo and toothpaste were provided to the James’ by the Ronald McDonald House.

To return the courtesy, David started a drive called “Products for Peyton”, collecting travel-sized items to give to the Ronald McDonald House this December. Several schools across the area also took part in the Kindness Matters campaign, not only to donate to the Ronald McDonald House, but to spread the anti-bullying message.

“We hadn’t seen anything like this before, so we decided that this was something good to take on and give back,” White said.

Students and faculty were requested to donate travel-sized toiletries in one of the multiple boxes across campus. The cheerleaders spread the word via email and announcements, encouraging participation in the campaign.

“The cheer teams gathered hygiene kits that would be given to the Ronald McDonald House for families who have to stay for long terms. Every cheerleader was to bring in 10 personal hygiene items each that would be donated,” senior varsity cheerleader Ashton Terry said. “We highly encouraged cheerleaders to tell friends and family to bring items or to start their own ‘Products for Peyton’ campaign.”

Not only was the cheer organization one of the leading participants in Kindness Matters, but other organizations took part as well. From Student Council and Standleaders to HOSA and Fine Arts, the response was overwhelming. The cheerleaders donated the collected items on Dec. 9.

“People these days seem to be out for themselves without regard for others. Sometimes we just need to stop, realize how fortunate we are, and attempt to give the kindness back to others,” Yvette Winship, varsity cheer coach and Algebra 1 teacher, said. “No matter your circumstance, we should always have good cheer to share with those around you, even if you feel that no one is watching. I feel that this is a way to make a difference in our community and in the lives of Peyton’s parents.”

It’s uplifting when something good happens even in the midst of tragedy. Like a silver lining, these moments of hope and kindness are what bring people together instead of spreading them farther apart. In honor of Peyton, the Klein community came together for a greater purpose.

“I don’t like seeing kids get bullied. Sometimes, it feels like there is nothing we can do about it, but when we see kids getting bullied, we should stand up for them and be a friend,” said Terry. “There are kids hurting everywhere, and we need to treat others with kindness and respect. People are really all the same. They all want to be noticed, loved, and know that they matter. You never know what people are going through. Kindness really does matter.”