Isolation can take a toll on many aspects of life—including friendships. Oswego High School senior Katie McCumber went out of her way in May, a time of isolation, to let her friends know she was thinking of them and uplift their spirits. She completed this task by driving to her friends’ houses in Oswego and Kaneland to deliver cards addressed personally to them as well as a box of candy.
“Believe It Or Not I Care,” or B.I.O.N.I.C, a club at OHS focused primarily on building leadership skills and spreading kindness, presented a “Kindness Challenge,” asking members to safely demonstrate an act of kindness during a difficult time and encourage others to do so as well. Being a student board member of B.I.O.N.I.C, McCumber gladly accepted this challenge and delivered cards and candy to about 17 of her friends—no matter the distance she needed to travel to do so.
“[The] majority of them were all people that go to Oswego High School, and then I have a couple of friends that go to Kaneland High School…I hadn’t seen them in a while,” McCumber said. “So I went over there, too.”
While McCumber knew her good deed would spread positivity, she was overwhelmed with the joyous responses she received from her friends after delivering cards and candy to their mailboxes.
“You never truly understand the joy people are going to experience until it actually happens,” McCumber said. “Actually seeing their reactions and the texts I got afterwards— and just seeing people’s faces brighten once you give it to them— there’s no better reaction you can get than it actually happening in front of you.”
Fellow senior, friend and B.I.O.N.I.C board member Paige Kelly received a gift from McCumber and was encouraged by her to be a part of the “Kindness Challenge.”
“Opening a mailbox, I don’t really assume that there’s something in there for me…so it was really cool to see something that was addressed to me,” Kelly said.
Being on the receiving end of a card from McCumber, Kelly was excited and inspired to keep the kindness chain going.
“Me and then a few of my friends, like, we just delivered candy, like, or handwritten notes… to people’s mailboxes so we could keep positivity going and let people know, like, we’re there for them during these tough times, but in a safe way,” McCumber said.
The chain of events following McCumber’s acts of kindness displays just how inspiring it can be to see friends, or even strangers, simply be kind to others during a predominantly difficult time.
“I was able to nominate some of my friends, as well,” Kelly said. “It was nice to see I impacted someone positively and they are going to go impact someone else in the same way.”
All it takes is one person to do an act of kindness, simple or complex, to create a forward spiral of impenetrable kindness from one person to another. In this case, Kelly was already planning on partaking in the challenge, but being nominated by McCumber really pushed her to do what she knew would leave a lasting positive impact.”
“Katie is one of my closest friends, so seeing her do that definitely made me think it’s something worth while for me,” Kelly said.
After she was inspired by McCumber, she inspired some of her friends, and the cycle continued.
Kindness, unlike us humans, is something that cannot be quarantined; it flourishes in the most unseemingly places or times. In this case, it took just one woman— Katie McCumber— to create a lasting impact on people during a difficult time and create a path of kindness that many decided to travel.