Janet Shamlian – CBS News
Orion Jean is a young man on a mission, sharing the gift of reading with hundreds of thousands of kids. He may be only 10 years old, but the number on his mind is 500,000.
That’s how many books the Texas boy hopes will be donated by the end of the month.
“I want to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible,” he told CBS News.
In 2020, Jean won a student kindness contest where he displayed his own campaign of compassion. “Kindness is a virtue we can all possess. If we are willing to,” he said. “So why not start today. Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.”
Jean told CBS News that winning that content “was really just the catalyst to something so much bigger. It started out as an idea but here we are today, the race to kindness was born.”
With his $500 prize, Jean donated toys to a Dallas Children’s hospital. Next, through food drives and partnering with a relief group, he helped collect 100,000 meals for Texas families.
Now, his focus is books for children who may not have them at home.
“It’s all about my moral duty to help people,” he said. “You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”
Deep thoughts from a boy who has yet to start the sixth grade.
When Jean’s mother, Kherri, was asked if there’s still some 10-year-old left in her son, she joked, “We still have to remind him to take the dishes out of the dishwasher and to feed the dog!”
With 120,000 books collected so far, Jean is asking people across the country to give away their used books.
“I hope that the impact that I have had is enough to keep people continuing to race to kindness and continuing to join me in this marathon because it’s not a sprint,” Jean said. “It’s not a one-time thing, it’s not a three-time thing. It’s something that can hopefully be continued on for years and years to come.”
An ambitious goal from a child whose heart just might be as big as he is.