Two middle-schoolers in Buffalo, New York have gone viral for a touching act of kindness.
Romello “Mello” Early and Melvin Anderson are both in the seventh grade at Buffalo Creek Academy Charter School. In recent weeks, Mello had noticed that Melvin had been on the receiving end of some hurtful comments from fellow classmates directed at the sneakers he was wearing.
Mello was upset about the situation and how his friend was being treated, so much so that he ended up calling his mom crying after school. His mother, Anita James, told TODAY on the phone that when she had asked him what happened at school, she recalled he told her, “I just really need to talk to you because my friend is getting bullied and I’m tired of it.”
Once he explained the situation to his mother later that day, he asked if they could go to a shoe store in order to find a new pair of sneakers that Mello could give to Melvin. The 12-year-old offered up his allowance money to pay for the shoes, even suggesting that one of his Christmas presents could get taken away so he could purchase a new pair of shoes for his friend instead.
After purchasing the sneakers, in anticipation for the gift for his friend Mello said he went to sleep extra early so he could wake up and give him the shoes the next day. However, shortly after he had gifted the shoes to his friend, he was called to the classroom of Bryant Brown Jr., Dean of Culture at Buffalo Creek Academy.
Brown said that he had seen Melvin with the box of Nike sneakers in his classroom and inquired about what was in the box, only to discover that it was brand new shoes. When Brown asked who gave Melvin the shoes, he revealed that his friend Mello had gotten the shoes for him, a gesture that made Brown “get teary.”
“I said ‘Call Mello’ and Mello came and explained to me that he bought them with his allowance,” Brown said.
He decided to take a picture of the two boys posing side-by-side with Melvin holding the brand new pair of sneakers to mark the touching moment. With permission from the boys’ parents, Brown shared the photo on his Facebook with the message, “My student Melo (sic) told me he was tired of other students picking on Melvin about his shoes. Melo used his allowance and bought Melvin some shoes. This is what I live for 💯 💯 be that helping hand.”
The post went viral on Facebook, garnering over 20,000 likes, 16,000 shares, and 2,000 comments. Brown said he didn’t know that one post was going to cause such a wave, adding, “We truly think it was a kind gesture that I haven’t seen ever in my life. I’ve seen it on YouTube and I see acts of kindness with students all around this world, but for it to happen at Buffalo Creek, I was lost for words.”
Brown, Mello and Melvin’s family have been blown away by the response to the story. It even caught the attention of Dakarai Singletary, the founder of the local organization Candles in the S.U.N., who will be taking the two boys a Buffalo Bills game in November to celebrate the good deed.
Melvin’s father Wesley Anderson said that he didn’t have the full story when it came to how his son actually got the new pair of shoes. When Melvin, who his father described as "humble," came home with new sneakers, he had initially told his dad that the shoes didn’t fit his friend anymore so he had given them to him. However, Anderson got the full story when Brown had called him to let him know the response the post was getting on social media.
At first, Anderson wasn’t sure how to react to the attention that the story was getting. He acknowledged how unkind words said about one another can hurt, explaining, “They’re not aware that what they’re saying is having an effect on other kids. That’s where the bullying comes in and they’re not really aware of that.”
Anderson just hopes that the kindness of the situation between his son and his friend is “contagious.”
“Just treat everybody with kindness instead of trying to ridicule the other child, because they never know what their parents are going through — a financial situation, mental situation, or whatever the case may be,” he said. “I just hope that that spreads around. I don’t hope everybody buys everybody a pair of sneakers, but instead of being mean and telling jokes, just console one another. Lift everybody up.”
Both Brown and Mello agreed with Anderson’s call for widespread kindness. Mello even echoed a similar sentiment, adding, “Treat someone the way you want to be treated, because God always gives back for good deeds. I just wish people would treat other people better.”
Brown hopes that other families take away the same message from the unexpected viral story and are able to learn a lesson in goodwill.
“Teach your kid to be very kind to one another so that you can have a good atmosphere at school and the culture of school can be a great and peaceful place so that kids can feel comfortable going to school,” he said. “We want to try build a foundation within our school to make sure that kids won’t ever feel like they don’t want to go to school. We can help them, just like Mello helped Melvin.”