Editorial: Kindness to others is everything we need

Kindness toward others, particularly those who need it in a time of crisis, is not necessarily something that is part of the dialogue these days. But in four of our stories this week, you will see how people have reached beyond themselves to help others.

Their stories lift our spirits and reinforce our faith in the essential goodness of people and in our community.

Consider the story of Kyle Verity, the son of two longtime educators in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, Scott and Patti Verity. Every student who passed through the district, from elementary school into high school, knew these highly regarded teachers well. 

Kyle has made a name for himself, too. And for all the right reasons. Kyle’s personality and love of customer service has made him a very popular worker at the Mattituck McDonald’s, where he’s worked since 2007. 

If you missed him at McDonald’s, you might have seen him on the tricycle he rides to and from work. A Mattituck couple, Andrew and Amanda Haupt, who knew Kyle from McDonald’s, wanted to make his trip — approximately five miles — easier, so they did some research about electric bikes. 

They found a 500-watt electric-powered bike that would be perfect for Kyle and created a GoFundMe page to raise the $1,700 cost. As Mr. Haupt said, the fundraising “snowballed.” 

We also write this week about Will Green, a 17-year-old musical whiz kid and a Riverhead High School senior. His résumé is very impressive. He has won many prestigious music awards and can play any percussion instrument.

With all his musical and academic accomplishments, and the bright future that awaits him, Will still thinks about others and how he can help them. So he started a nonprofit percussion academy for students in grades 5-8. Goal: give back to the school’s music programs that meant so much to him, which were cut when the district adopted a contingency budget. Will didn’t want the dream of music for all students to die.

“It gives me hope,” he said. “It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel.”

At the Peconic Community School in Aquebogue, a newly formed track team made up of students in grades 3-8 joined together to run for charity. The young runners logged over 60 miles over the holiday break to raise more than $1,200.

As heartbreaking as it is to read, please spend some time with our story about Ryan Oliver, who died suddenly on Jan. 28. He was just 16, a sophomore at Mattituck High School. The words of Ryan’s dad, Michael Oliver, will touch you deeply, as he remembered his son as someone who was always there for his friends and was remembered at a Celebration of Life service as a standout athlete and a polite, caring and funny young man who brought joy to the people around him.

Mr. Oliver kept hearing from people asking the same question: How can we help you? On Jan. 30 he created a GoFundMe page with the goal of reaching $5,000 to donate to local charities that support children and families. The goal was reached within minutes. 

Soon the amount raised topped $75,000. Many contributions came from people the family did not even know. The Olivers are now considering setting up a foundation or scholarship fund — all to help others.

“It would be local, impacting the community,” Mr. Oliver said. 

The kindness shown to the Oliver family by the school district, students and anonymous members of the community, once again reinforces the goodness that is all around us.