Mother and daughter answer bad with good

Jim Day
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In wake of Newton school shootings Kenzie and Katie Whalen performing 28 good deeds to honour victims' memories

Kenzie Whalen and her mom Katie are on a campaign to spread some cheer through acts of kindness as their response to the shocking Sandy Hook School shooting in December that left 20 young students dead.

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.

Organizations: Newton school, Sandy Hook School, Home and School Salvation Army Swiss Chalet Donagh Regional School

Geographic location: Newtown, Connecticut, Fort Augustus, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Audrey Fraser
    January 11, 2013 - 18:48

    Congratulations Katie and Kenzie, on making the world a better place to live. It is truly a "pay it forward" opportunity. The Katie and Kenzie circle has just begun. You are both beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for sharing. Audrey

  • Lillian
    January 11, 2013 - 16:48

    The Guardian should pass this on to the residents of Newtown Ct. Let them know that two strangers are remembering their lost loved loved ones with acts of kindness to others. Thank you Katie and Kenzie

  • Hannah shea
    January 11, 2013 - 15:27

    I no the two of them Kenzie Whalen is my best friend

  • Jeannie
    January 11, 2013 - 14:22

    We read such terrible things in the news everyday. This is so refreshing. What a great example this mother is setting for her daughter. Now GUARDIAN if you could print just one of these types of stories a week, it would be very much appreciated by your readers. We all know they're out there, you need to find them and print more of them :))

  • intobed
    January 11, 2013 - 13:54

    To me, this is what true Islanders are made of. Kenzie and Katie, thank you for caring about others. With so much greed and backstabbing going on amid our politicians and business people, it is good to hear such positive stories such as yours. Thanks to The Guardian for publishing this story!

  • Great Pair
    January 11, 2013 - 11:49

    We should all take an example from what this mother and daugher are doing. If we all had their attitude this world would be a better place. We all intend to do something to make a difference, but most for most of us it's just talk (including myself). This mother is doing a terrific job raising this young lady and teaching her what the entire human race SHOULD be like. Kudos to this mother. These 2 are obviously sincere, caring people and hopefully all the good they are spreading comes back to them twofold.

  • Shirley
    January 11, 2013 - 11:37

    This is an Amazing story in ''TWO WAYS''' Amazing to read what these two people are doing . And Amazing to read this comment board with no negative feedback.

  • Sharon Lacey
    January 11, 2013 - 11:31

    This was such a great thing for you and your daughter to do happy new years to both of you.

  • Rod
    January 11, 2013 - 10:51

    Wow, very nice story to read. Two very special people! Thank you!

  • Lori
    January 11, 2013 - 10:14

    This is an amazing story ... brought tears to my eyes as well.

  • Sylvia
    January 11, 2013 - 09:25

    Katie, what you're doing with Kenzie is setting her on the right path for the rest of her life. You're not just teaching her the importance of helping others, you're teaching her what it means to be unselfish, caring, and generous. What she's learning now will stay with her for the rest of her life.

  • Will
    January 11, 2013 - 09:17

    It's this kind of caring and compassion that is truly worthy of our time to read. Kudos to you Kenzie for being so thoughtful. Keep up the good work!

  • Jane
    January 11, 2013 - 09:03

    That was awesome!!! Her mother should, and probably is, very proud of her little girl. That brought tears to my eyes. Being a mother I couldn't dream of how those parents feel! Losing a child would be the hardest thing to go through.

  • Very Nice
    January 11, 2013 - 08:55

    That is an awesome story. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. You both are amazing. When bad news news seems to outweigh good news it is so nice to know there is good people out there we just don't get to hear about it very often.

  • Beautiful
    January 11, 2013 - 08:32

    What a beautiful story of kindness. Brought tears to my eyes. Never lose your compassion for others, Kenzie. The world is a better place because people like you are in it.

    • Paul
      January 11, 2013 - 09:01

      Just an awesome story! Way to go Kenzie and Katie! You will inspire many with this!

    • jane
      January 11, 2013 - 10:13

      Amazing story of such care,kindness and generosity. You are a true Angel Kenzie. You make your mother, family and friends very proud. Beautiful story!