Words of Hope in a Time of Healing

Seyton Thomas is a college student with a heart for giving. Seyton has experienced challenges in her life that sculpted her drive to lead and light a spark in young children from all backgrounds to develop leadership, perseverance, compassion, and self-love. Seyton says, “Service is what saved me, and I hope that this is a message that I can spread to youth across the world.”

During the pandemic, Seyton organized a diverse group of young people to help a local crisis center. The Community Crisis Center in Miami, Oklahoma, is a home that gives shelter and other services to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The crisis center depends on volunteers to help the women and children experience encouragement and a break from stress, but the pandemic made volunteer interaction difficult.

Ms. Thomas learned that the children benefitted from activities that distracted them from their worries and made them feel special. She got the idea from the crisis center director to paint encouraging messages on stones and hide them in the lawn of the crisis center for the children to find. Seyton pulled together other students from the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, of which she is an officer, as well as her college soccer team and the coach's Cub Scout Troop. Together the young people collected stones, painted kind messages, and filled two boxes full of fun and colorful stones. They gave them to the crisis center to hide. The children at the crisis center were delighted to find and read the special messages. They valued the experience as well as the words coming from caring community members who took time to make them feel valued in a difficult time.

Seyton reflected with the group of volunteers that the project was a great way to bring people together positively in community to do something for the good of others. They talked about how serving others can make a difference in someone’s life – the lives of the kids who found and treasured those painted stones and their own lives. It was a small action with a big heart. It may seem like the deed is as small as a stone, but the impact of service can be as large as a mountain.

Do it Yourself

Learning to Give has two sets of directions for painting stones. Who do you know that needs words of encouragement and a distraction? Try one of these: 

  1. This lesson plan called Doodle Stones guides kids to write kind words on stones. Read and watch a story of an after-school program doing the activity creatively. 
  2. These directions for the Simple Safe Service project help youth design a neighborhood scavenger hunt of painted rocks.