Ten-year-old Kenzie Whalen is answering bad with good.
The Sandy Hook School shooting in December in Newtown, Connecticut, hit the young Island student hard.
How could someone, she would ask of her mother, Katie, at the time, do such a thing to little children? The 20 students killed were six- and seven-year-olds.
Innocent. Defenceless. Murdered.
“I really felt bad for them,’’ said Kenzie.
But what could one young P.E.I. girl do?
The mother and daughter, who live in Fort Augustus, gave good thought to how best to respond. What the pair came up with was truly a good idea: literally and figuratively.
The single mom and her only child decided what they would do is they would do some good to counter bad.
So the two Ks — Katie and Kenzie — set out to perform 28 good deeds: one selfless act of kindness for each of the 20 children killed on Dec. 14 as well as one each for the six adults killed at the school, one for the shooter’s mother killed before the rampage at the school, and one more for the members of the community that were left facing incomprehensible horror, grief and loss.
The first good deed was performed on Dec. 19.
In memory of slain six-year-old Charlotte Bacon, the Whalens left Christmas cards on the windshields of 26 cars in a mall parking lot in Charlottetown. Kenzie signed each card “Best wishes from a friendly stranger.’’
With that special gesture extended, the goodness had begun in the wake of such badness.
Nine more random acts of kindness have since followed:
• Christmas gifts were given to strangers in the street. Rest in peace Daniel Barden, age 7.
• Kenzie fired off a heartfelt thank-you note to her Home and School association. RIP Olivia Engel, age 6.
• In memory of seven-year-old Josephine Gay, Kenzie and Katie surprised friends with partial payment of a dinner bill.
• The pair helped a neighbour for a whole day to prepare for a Christmas party. Ana M. Marquez-Green, 6, will never be forgotten.
• Sang Christmas carols at a seniors’ home. Remembering Dylan Hockley, 6.
• Handed out mini-cheesecakes at the Charlottetown Mall. A good thought goes out for those grieving the loss of Madeleine F. Hsu, 6.
• Seven bags of clothes donated to the Salvation Army. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6.
• Donated two boxes of toys. Chase Kowalksi, 7.
• Gave a Swiss Chalet gift certificate to a family of six. Jesse Lewis, 6. Catherine, Chase, and Jesse, rest in peace.
Ten more acts of kindness remain for the 10 other children shot dead. Seven more for the slain adults and one for a devastated community. Eighteen more good deeds in total still to be served up by this special pair.
Already, though, thanks to Kenzie and Katie, plenty of good has come out of so much bad.
The pair’s acts of kindness have struck a wonderful chord with many. Immediate joy has been spread to those on the receiving end of a little goodness.
Kenzie relishes the positive responses. Doing good deeds, not surprisingly, feels really good. Her kindness has also proven to be contagious.
Just ask Amber Praught.
“Katie and Kenzie have started an incredible chain of kindness as we are going to pay it forward with a good deed to someone else,’’ said Praught.
“What a magnificent way to teach our children that there is also good in the world. Thank you Katie and Kenzie for including our family in your kind acts.”
This whole lot of goodness has also been a whole lot of good for Katie. Carrying out these acts of kindness have tightened what was already a tight bond between mother and daughter.
“I’m so proud of my daughter for taking this on,’’ said Katie. “It’s all about life’s lessons.’’
Arlene Fraser is Kenzie’s homeroom teacher at Donagh Regional School. She thought Kenzie’s good deeds would make a good story so she contacted The Guardian.
Fraser was not the least bit surprised to learn of Kenzie’s campaign of good. Certainly not with a student like Kenzie, who the teacher describes as kind, thoughtful, mature, bright and caring.
While not surprised, she is still deeply moved by the kind actions of Kenzie and her mother.
“I guess as a teacher and as a mom that it has really inspired me that they could turn something so tragic into a positive action,’’ she said.