In the early days of the pandemic, when essential workers toiled for hours at great personal risk, many Americans felt gratitude. Addison Watrous Lowry, a bubbly Kansas 8-year-old from Andover, KS, felt it enough to put pen (and stickers!) to paper, creating signs thanking frontliners for their service—and, with a dash of whimsy, secretly installing them on their lawns. Inspired by her aunt, an E.R. nurse, Addison asked her mom to buy supplies, then made posters that said, “Heroes Live Here” in rainbow letters, to offer local nurses, doctors, and other workers a small but heartfelt boost. Having tackled her neighborhood, Addison kept going, leaving signs for friends of friends who braved the virus at work.
Born at 26 weeks, Addison has underdeveloped lungs, says her mother, Stephanie Lowry. So keeping her safe during the outbreak was crucial—and yet, by placing the signs when no one was around, the family found a way to protect her while still allowing her to give back. Addison was caught just once, by a hospice worker who was stunned, then moved. She gave one convenience-store clerk a sign directly, thanking him for risking his life to provide people with goods. He broke down in tears.
When asked how she thinks other kids can spread joy, Addison has plenty of ideas. “You could call your friends to cheer them up,” she says. “You can write letters, and then you could be pen pals! Or you can leave letters or pictures on people’s cars or doors thanking them for their help. You can just say ‘thank you.’ ”
This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's November 2020 issue as “The Kindness Hall of Fame.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here