Litchfield Elementary School students are getting a dose of kindness — by way of books about kindness. The Honey Foundation recently applied for a scholarship through the city of Litchfield Park so it could gift the books to the school.
The book and the school are very special to the founders of the Honey Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes kindness. Jaime and Justin Clarke started the organization in 2012 in memory of Justin’s twin brother, Scott Clarke, who showed kindness to others.
Every Mother’s Day, Scott would bring roses and money to a local Starbucks and ask the clerk to give coffee and roses to mothers who came in. It was a random act of kindness that no one else knew about until 2011. That year, Scott’s own mother came in and received a free coffee and a rose. She found out the kind stranger was actually her son.
Sharing that story at his funeral has already inspired others to do their own random acts of kindness.
“I wondered what caused people to do acts of kindness, and it’s stories like these. People hear it and they think, ‘I can do that,’” Jaime said.
Grieving for Scott and wanting to honor his memory led Jaime and Justin to start the Honey Foundation, whose goal is to teach students life skills through kindness. It raises money to help other charitable organizations, including the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society, several local elementary schools, and other community-based organizations. Plus, its Kindness Education Program is in schools in Arizona, California, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Jersey an Texas.
Also, Justin and Jaime Clarke wrote the children’s book “The Kind Bee: Just Bee Cause” as a way to spread kindness in a fun and meaningful way. When they learned that the city of Litchfield Park was offering a scholarship to local nonprofits, they jumped at the chance to use it to give books to students at a local school.
But not just any school. Litchfield Elementary is close to the Clarkes, as Justin and Scott attended there as kids.
Litchfield Park Mayor Tom Schoaf said that each year the city sets aside some of the budget for local nonprofits that can offer services to local residents.
“One of the recipients of a distribution this year was the Honey Foundation,” he said. “This foundation is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving interactions between children by eliminating bullying and emphasizing kindness.”
The scholarship from the city of Litchfield covers the cost of 70 books, which isn’t enough to give all of the students their own books. But school principal Sabine Hopper has some ideas about how to distribute them.
“Every year we try to give all of the second graders their own book, since that is a critical year for reading. We have 120 second graders, so 70 books would be a good start.”
Hopper added that receiving books from the community is a double blessing, as they are feeling support from the community while making books more accessible to kids who are learning to read.
“You can never have enough books,” she said.
The school doesn’t get a lot of funding to buy books and heavily depends on donations to increase its library as well as gifting books to the students.
The Honey Foundation is run by all volunteers and uses a bee as its mascot.
“Bees pollinate the world, and we’d die without them,” Jaime said. “That’s like kindness. Also, honey is sweet and never spoils.”
While Jaime and Justin have a family and jobs, they said their lives really revolve around the foundation.
“I would do more of it could,” Jaime said. “This is true to my heart — it feeds me.”