Given the prevalence of news stories about disasters, violence, and crime, it is easy to start thinking the world is a scary, cruel place. But there’s also plenty of kindness out there, if we take the time to look. Not only that, we all have the ability to create positive change to combat the problems we see in the world.
Here are four amazing stories about compassionate kids that prove anyone, no matter how small, can make a big difference:
Nothing a Little Chocolate Bar Can’t Fix
It’s not every day that a 6-year-old publishes a book, sells 16,000 copies, and raises $750,000 dollars for medical research in the process. But that is exactly what Dylan Siegel did to help find a cure for his best friend, who has Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1b (a rare but potentially life-threatening liver condition).
To Dylan, “chocolate bar” means awesome, so that is what he decided to call his book. He started by selling 200 copies at a school event, and then held a book signing at a local Barnes and Noble. This led to appearances on several television shows, stories in magazines and newspapers, and massive success for Dylan’s efforts.
All of the money he has raised with Chocolate Bar has gone to a research fund at the University of Florida, and he hopes to eventually raise at least $1 million.
Changing the World With Teddy Bears
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti inspired many remarkable acts of charity and support. One especially touching effort was made by Blare Gooch, who was 12-years-old at the time. Blare was watching a newscast of the quake’s destruction and saw a little boy in the wreckage crying. This gave him the idea to collect teddy bears to send to Haiti.
His school allowed him to announce the idea over the PA system, and pretty soon other kids began donating bears. Thanks to a little media attention, and the kindness of many other donors, Blare was able to send 25,000 bears to Haiti. He also gave another 22,000 to other nonprofits.
In the following year, he expanded his efforts and began collecting school supplies for children in Haiti, as well.
When 7-year-old Mateo Maldonado saw bags of trash lining the streets of his community, he decided something needed to be done. So, he and his family set out to clean up the mess, collecting a total of 47 bags of litter.
But Mateo didn’t stop there. Instead, he formed a group called Mateo’s Litter Critters to continue the clean up efforts. The group meets once a month in bright green shirts, drives around to find a place in need of their services, and goes to work ridding the community of trash. 
In less than one year, Mateo and his Critters collected more than 200 bags of trash from parks and streets in their city of York, Pennsylvania.
Blankets for a Brighter World
Charlie Coons was 11 years old when her brother returned from a trip to Egypt with stories about needy children he had seen in orphanages. Charlie wanted to do something to help, so she got some friends together to make blankets to send to the orphans.
She continued her efforts by starting an organization called HELP (Hope Encouragement Love Peace), dedicated to sending blankets to children in need. Since then, several other states have started their own chapters.
Charlie started her blanket project in 2008, and by 2011 her group had sent more than 700 blankets to children in several different countries.
These kids are just a few of many people, young and old, whose acts of kindness remind us that the world really is full of happy stories and caring gestures.
 “Chocolate Bar.” Accessed April 15, 2014. http://chocolatebarbook.com.
 Cooper, Andrea.“8 Amazing Kids Who Make a Difference.” Parenting. Accessed April 15, 2014. http://www.parenting.com/gallery/kids-who-make-difference?page=2.
 “Meet the Finalists for Kindest Kid.” Today. Last modified November 27, 2013. http://www.today.com/video/today/53677597/#53677597.
 Sawyer, Hannah. “Litter Critter Mateo a Finalist in National Kindest Kid Contest.” York City Limits. Last modified December 6, 2013. http://www.yorkblog.com/yorkcitylimits/2013/12/06/litter-critter-mateo-a-finalist-in-national-kindest-kid-contest.
 Flans, Robyn. “Simi Valley Eighth-Grader’s Nonprofit Takes Off.” Ventura County Star. Last modified February 15, 2011. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/feb/15/simi-valley-eighth-graders-nonprofit-takes-off/?partner=yahoo_feeds.