Bullying continues to plague our schools. Children can be cruel, as we often say, and teasing or making fun of other kids for just being who they are is one clear manifestation of that.
7th grader Haley Olsen from Atkinson Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona knew about this all too well. Not dressing like the ‘cool’ kids can make kids an easy target for bullies, and Haley suffered from just that. As one of 7 siblings, Haley often ended up in hand-me-downs. Her parents simply could not afford to dress their kids to a fashion icon or celebrity-standard, as so many kids nowadays seem to want.
The bullying made her life miserable — that is until a certain angel stepped in and changed everything.
Haley was regularly bullied by some of the other students at her school. The experience was mortifying, and Haley often came home in tears.
“I always came home crying and stuff to my parents saying how I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I wanted to be home schooled,” she told Fox 10 Phoenix.
But little did she know that one of her classmates had been watching everything unfold and plotting something very special behind her back.
The Gift of Friendship
Classmate Mariah Andrew had noticed that the cruel bullying was causing Haley emotional harm and one day she just had enough. She decided to reach out to Haley to befriend her and offer her a shoulder to cry on. But Mariah had more up her sleeves: it wasn’t just friendship that she would be offering Haley.
At home, Mary was secretly preparing a package for Haley that would be sure to put a smile on her face. She had subtly inquired about Haley’s clothes and shoe sizes. She then filled a backpack with beautiful items to offer Haley as a surprise — and what a surprise it was!
Backpack Full of Love
When Haley opened up the backpack she was overcome with emotion.
“I was jumping all over the place screaming how happy I was,” Haley said.
But Mariah’s gracious gesture not only made Haley feel incredibly touched, it spurred a whole movement at their school. Inspired by Mariah’s kind behavior, other students began reaching out to offer Haley their friendship, too.
When the story about the two girls later spread on social media, a local dental clinic, Sonoran Smile Orthodontics, were moved to donate some of the dental work that Haley needed. Other families in the community also began to donate clothes to Haley to help her family out.
“It made me feel happy at first and the day that I gave it to her, I was trying so hard not to cry,” Mariah told Fox 10 Phoenix.
It all began with one kind deed — and culminated into a whole community showing love and support.
Watch the news report below about this wonderful friendship.
We need more kids like Mariah out there! I think it’s important to always remember that one person can’t do everything, but we can all do a little something. Share if this story warmed your heart, too.