Random Acts of Kindness gears up for holiday season

People all over the world fight all types of battles; whether it be on the front overseas or against a illness inside of them, but Random Acts of Kindness, a group at Southmoreland High School, is doing work in hopes to make all of these fights easier.

Mrs. Jenna Hixson, an English teacher, and a “ray of sunshine” in this school, has gone through her own battles, but even when in need herself she continues to help others with her students help. Mrs. Hixson went through stage 1B cervical cancer and was absent for 47 days recovering from surgery. While her absence was very upsetting for the many students and staff, she remained strong and continued helping people even while in remission.

“‘Say cheese.’ This is a frequently heard phrase in the Hixson household, but I recently informed my students to practice saying the same line,” said Mrs. Hixson.

After being diagnosed with cancer in the early summer, Mrs. Hixson’s world “flipped upside down.” Awaiting treatment, she said there was one thing she needed: a family portrait. So she had one taken of her family.

“These photos would hold a special place in my heart and they gave me the peace of mind that my toddler son Reed would always have these,” said Mrs. Hixson

On Sept. 20, she received a call that her surgery was a success and those photos would always be a reminder that she was able to beat cancer. Mrs. Hixson knew that she wasn’t the only cancer patient who felt that they needed a family portrait, so she formulated her biggest random act of kindness yet.

On April 19, 2018, a group of amatuer student and adult photographers will volunteer five hours to take pictures of families. These families will be discovering the opportunity through The “Arnold Palmer Cancer Centers” in Mount Pleasant and Greensburgh or UPMC cancer center in North Huntingdon.

The photos will be taken at West Overton Village in Alverton. For a small fee, pictures will be taken using various different backdrops to facilitate the photographing of families. Cancer patients and/or survivors will receive one free CD with all images.

“I am working on a number of things right now, “Mrs. Hixson said. “It is the most wonderful time of the year. Room 211 is officially SHS Secret Santa Headquarters.”

While recovering from surgery,Mrs. Hixson had a lot of time to think about how she could make the holidays better, easier, and happier for others around her.

Once again Mrs. Hixson will be doing the Santa Snacks for various charities.

Mrs. Hixson receives helps from several students and teachers, and for one of her projects this Christmas she is teaming up with Mr. Sean Cartwright. They plan to send gifts overseas to troops stationed in Afghanistan. Mr. Cartwright was deployed overseas for a large duration of last school year last year.

“It was sad, exciting, and every emotional,” Mr. Cartwright said. “I can think of. So many mixed emotions, but I was mainly sad because I had to leave my family.”

Mr. Cartwright’s brother is in the PA National Guard and is currently deployed. At his  going away party Mr. Cartwright met some of the soldiers Southoreland students will be sending gifts to.

Mrs. Hixson and Mr. Cartwright talked about what the troops would like for Christmas. Students can bring in things like Peanut M&M’s, protein bars,  beef jerky, razors, shaving cream and body wash.

“When deployed and in such a rough place, it’s nice to get stuff you don’t have access to,” Mr. Carwright said. “I know that people don’t have much money to spare, but I want the students and adults to consider giving the troops the luxury we have while they are away.”

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