Kindness Pays Off: Introducing this Year’s Winner of Our Sportsmanship Scholarship Award

Last year, Trophy Central started the Sportsmanship Scholarship Award, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not just a scholarship — $1000 toward the winner’s first year of college, paid for by Trophy Central — but also an award: one of our shiny, custom trophies highlighting the recipient’s trophy-worthy qualities. We are so pleased to be in our second year of awarding our Sportsmanship Scholarship award to a very deserving student. Just like last year, we set out to find a student exhibiting extreme sportsmanship, compassion and/or kindness. And we have found our winner!

Meet Addison Stone, a former Texas high school senior who is the recipient of what we call The Kind Scholar Award: For Doing Good In and Out of the Classroom.

Congratulations, Addison!!

Addison-Stone-Sportsmanship-Scholarship

Team Trophy Central is so thrilled to reward her with not just a trophy, but our $1000 scholarship to help her out with tuition for her first year of college. Addison plans on becoming a middle school teacher, and we couldn’t be more excited to play a small role in helping her achieve her dream!

Addison-Stone-Kind-Scholar-Award

A Winner, in Every Sense of the Word

What made Team Trophy Central choose Addison as both a trophy and scholarship winner?

Here’s a list of her trophy and scholarship-worthy qualifications:

  • Addison racked up over 2200 hours of volunteering during high school. This means that, on top of maintaining good grades, Addison dedicated her free time to doing good. She has volunteered at her community garden, which helps to feed the hungry. She has also mentored teen girls and coached basketball, on top of traveling to juvenile detention centers with her choir and traveling abroad with her ministry to counsel refugees.
  • Addison was appointed District Kindness Ambassador when high school officials observed her natural tendency to help her peers.
  • Addison is a winner of the Wendy’s High School Heisman award, given out to high school athletes for excellence in academics, athletics and community involvement.
  • Her teachers and church members rave about her. Her Advanced Placement Drawing teacher, said “She is extremely mature, constantly taking tasks upon herself to ease the workload of others, myself included. Addie tirelessly volunteers to aid other students in class and around our campus. She uses her art to help us beautify our halls with posters, flyers, and other graphic work that she has as a commissioned artist… She uses her natural ability to lead others with kindness in the classroom and on the court as an integral part of our basketball team.” An administrator at Addison’s church, said: “She excels in school both in the classroom and in the arts. She has a great talent for time management and ensuring her time is well spent investing not only in her future but in the future of others.”

Addie-Stone-Trophy-Central

Teaching the Next Generation of Sue Hecks

Congratulations once again, Addison! Team Trophy Central wishes you the best of luck in college and on your journey to becoming a middle school teacher. We hope you will nurture and support all the Sue Hecks in your classroom because Sue Heck (a fictional character on the sitcom The Middle) is who inspired our monthly Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award! We wanted to reward kindness and good deeds, but even more important than that, we wanted to reward those who make the world a better, more sparkly place by being themselves. Like Sue Heck, not everyone excels in sports or other traditional trophy-awarding spheres like theater or choir. But being good at activities you’d typically win a trophy for is not all that matters in life. At Trophy Central, we believe that there are all kinds of things that make you trophy-worthy! We believe Sue Heck’s persistence, her drive to never, EVER give up, is inspiring. Sue always makes lemons out of lemonade and in doing so, shows those around her that failure is not an ending, just a detour — and an opportunity to make something even better happen. If that isn’t trophy-worthy, we don’t know what is.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

If you’re a high school senior (or if you know a high school student who will be a senior next year) follow Trophy Central to be reminded of our Sportsmanship Scholarship Award. We can’t wait to help the next deserving student pay for college — and to make them smile with one of our shiny, cool trophies!

The Completely Kind Compliments Award: For Trophy-Worthy Kindness That Made Twitter A Nicer Place To Be

If your Twitter feed is anything like Team Trophy Central’s, you might be feeling that bad news and stress keep seeping through, despite your best efforts to keep your feed full of positivity and kindness. It can be disheartening logging onto Twitter only to see that what’s trending is one disaster after another. Team Trophy Central believes that our social media efforts should make us feel better about the world, not worse. Which is why we make it a goal of ours to only put kindness and heartwarming stories into your feed. It’s also why we couldn’t help jumping for joy when we got a tweet nominating writer Brooke Preston for our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.

Brooke Preston singlehandedly made Twitter a kinder, more thoughtful place to be on January 24th, which just so happened to be National Compliment Day. Her trophy-worthy generosity started with a simple tweet (complete with an adorable Amy Poehler Parks and Recreation gif!)

Trending: Trophy-Worthy Kindness

What followed was a thread so thoughtful, kind and generous that Twitter truly did become a kinder place to be that day.

Some examples to make you smile:

Brooke told Bridget Eileen: I love that you are so politically involved and trying to make the world a better place! We need women like you!!

Brooke told Dana Koster: Any mama who still pursues her passions is a superhero in my book. Also your wedding photography is GORGEOUS.

To Victor Pang, who said a compliment would be nice after having a bad day, Brooke tweeted: I’m so sorry you’re having a bad day! Your writing always makes my day better!

But the kindness didn’t end there. Many Twitter users took it upon themselves to offer compliments to Brooke.

Amber Rollo told Brooke: This is such an awesome idea, it’s such a beautiful way to connect with people. You are making the internet a better place.

Emmy Potter told Brooke: You are a kind, funny, thoughtful queen/writer/mom/friend and I am so glad to know you!!!

Janine Annette said: I want to compliment YOU! You’re so funny and hard working and smart!

Brooke was moved by the results of her kindness: “This thread is having dual side benefits of both making me remember how many incredible, kind, creative people there are in this dumpster fire of a world, AND that I apparently get residual compliments. I may make this a habit.”

Team Trophy Central highly encourages you to read through the entire thread of kindness here. It is absolutely day-making.

Inspiring More Kindness

Which is why we just had to send Brooke one of our customized kindness trophies! Hers reads: The Completely Kind Compliments Award: For Spreading Joy One Thoughtful Tweet at a Time.

Brooke-Preston-Trophy-Central

Congratulations, Brooke! And heartfelt thanks to writer (and former Random Acts of Trophy-ness #ShowUsYourSue winner Brijana Prooker for the spot-on nomination!)

When Team Trophy Central wrote to Brooke to tell her we would be sending her a shiny trophy, she said: “OMG I’m so honored. Good deeds come back to you, just usually not in the form of awesome trophies!!”

Her comment made us smile and warmed our hearts because it’s so true: Being kind to someone is not generally a singular act. Your kindness has the power to make someone’s day, which can in turn inspire them to be kind to someone else and make theirs.

If you can believe it, we are in our FIFTH year of sending out monthly trophies to people (and some animals!) who are making the world a better place by being themselves. Our goal in starting our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award was always to inspire more kindness.

When we came up with the idea of rewarding kindness and other inspiring acts of greatness with trophies five years ago, we had no idea what kindness it would inspire, only that we wanted to reward the Sue Hecks of the world.

In case you don’t know, Sue Heck is a fictional character on the sitcom The Middle. Sue Heck was awkwardness — and positivity, perseverance and gusto! — personified. Think of her as the person picked last in gym, the girl who tried out for every play, musical and sport and who rarely (if ever) was picked. Actually if it weren’t for “No-Cuts Cross Country” (the team where every student who wanted to join the team made the team) or Wrestlerettes (the group of misfit cheerleaders she assembled to root for the wrestling team) Sue may never have belonged to any group in high school.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

But that didn’t stop her from trying out. Sue Heck never let defeat break her. She always, ALWAYS made lemons out of lemonade and always, ALWAYS inspired others with her scintillating nature and can-do attitude. Sue Heck is the kind of person who wouldn’t typically be recognized in traditional high school awards ceremonies. But she is EXACTLY the kind of person we want to give trophies to: Someone who makes the world smile and inspires others to never, EVER give up!!

As Brooke said upon hearing she was Trophy Central’s January trophy winner, “If I could have a job just doing this I would quit everything else immediately, it’s been such a joy!!”

Team Trophy Central feels the same way: If we could have a job that was exclusively sending out kindness trophies to make people smile, we would happily do it 24/7!

If you were inspired by the kindness in this blog, please help us pay the kindness forward by NOMINATING our next trophy winner! Just tell us how your nominee inspires you or how their kindness is making the world a better place! You can nominate the next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below or by tagging us on Twitter or Facebook using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. We can’t wait to have our hearts warmed by your nomination!

Just Another Day of Goodness Award: The Final Random Acts of Trophy-ness Winner of 2019 Will Warm Your Heart

If you skipped the daily barrage of headlines and Twitter storms and limited your reading to Trophy Central blogs, you’d agree with us that 2019 was a banner year for kindness.  And you, like us, would start 2020 with the optimism of Sue Heck, the fictional character who inspired our Random Acts of Trophy-ness awards.

Trophy-Central-kindness-award-winners

A look back at some of our amazing Random Acts of Trophy-ness award winners from 2019.

Last year got off to a fantastic start in January, when a Michigan police officer pumped $20 worth of gas into a woman’s tank, a small gesture that led to a whopping $27,633 being raised in a GoFundMe campaign to ease the elderly widow’s financial struggles.

Trophy-Worthy Education in Kindness

The year of kindness got additional boosts from three teachers, including one who chopped off her hair to send an anti-bullying message to her students, another whose show of compassion led to a mocked-student’s t-shirt becoming official sports memorabilia at the University of Tennessee and another who launched a program to award trophies to students who exhibited the most kindness during the school year.

Across-the-Map Random Acts of Trophy-ness

Other trophy-worthy individuals included three teens in Indiana who gave up their Spring Break to spread kindness across the Midwest, an Oregon woman who delivered socks and other goodies to area homeless residents, a Texas student who helped raise $80,000 for her best friend’s brother’s heart transplant, a Chicago real estate agent who purchased 30 motel rooms to keep homeless people safe during a cold snap, and the founder of Noah’s Animal House, a safe haven for the pets of women who have fled to a domestic violence shelter.

Some of Trophy Central’s “Show Us Your Sue” winners made headlines.  All of them brought joy and hope to the lives they touched.  When it came time to pick a December winner, the trophy-topper of the year, our standard for selection seemed almost impossibly high.

Standard-Setting December Trophy Winner

We are beyond pleased to announce that we found someone who reached – and then sailed past – our standard.  This is a person who has made both random and planned acts of kindness a way of life and shares a common extracurricular activity with Sue Heck, the fictional character on The Middle whose optimism and determination inspired us to create an award for unheralded heroes who make the world a better place.

Kindness-Trophy

Don Folsom, our December Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner, stood out among a long list of contenders in three ways:

  1. Don makes random (and not-so random) acts of kindness a way of life.

Don started a recent day in December by visiting a man in hospice before taking his wife out to breakfast at an eatery overlooking Michigan’s Lake Charlevoix.  Before leaving, he anonymously paid the restaurant tab for two tables of young mothers and their children.  Later that day, he helped EMTs load a neighbor into an ambulance.

About hospice work, Don says, “Some people say they could never do it. It’s easy for me, just yanking with an old guy.”

About paying for people’s restaurant orders?, “I love doing that, I hope it made their day.”

About helping his neighbor? “I’ll always be a fireman.”  (For 12 years, he was a volunteer for Pitsfield and Van Buren townships in southeastern Michigan.)

Donald Folsom

Donald Folsom on the job as a firefighter.

Don also travels downstate frequently to relieve his sister from caring for their 97-year-old father.  Yes, he complains about the TV-viewing rules (no talking except during commercials) and the TV choices (Judge Judy and Wheel of Fortune).  But he’s pleased that his dad still enjoys the turkey he bakes and BBQ ribs he orders for him.

And much of Don’s other journeys involve helping friends or tracking the history of long-last ancestors. He’s even tracked down friends he hasn’t seen in decades.

His explanation is simple and trophy worthy:  he likes making people smile.

  1. Don, like Sue Heck, is a cross-country runner.

Sue Heck joined her high school No-Cut Cross-Country team for the same reason she formed the Wrestlerettes – it was her only way to guarantee entry to an after-school activity.  We don’t know Don’s motivation for joining the cross country team at Churchill High School in Livonia, Michigan or the Eastern Michigan University cross country team in Ypsilanti.

But we do know he still runs every day with his two standard poodles, Fritz and Beau, and still participates in races a few times a year.  And, like Sue, Don doesn’t consider winning as important as crossing the finish line!

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Whether solo or with his dogs, Donald hits the ground running.

  1. Don has a wife named Sue!

Surely, it’s just coincidence but, if we needed more reason to award the December Random Act of Trophy-ness, his choice of spouse sure helps!

The former Susan Miller was Don’s college girlfriend and their first date was to see a then-unknown comic named Steve Martin.  After 40 years of marriage, he considers himself lucky to share a life and laughter with his best friend.

Donald with his dad (left); Donald's wife (right).

Donald with his dad (left); Donald’s favorite photo of his wife, Sue (right).

And all of us at Trophy Central consider ourselves lucky to name Don our December Random Act of Trophy-Ness Winner.  Keep the kindness coming, Don!

Happy 2020s to old friends and new friends in the Show Us Your Sue community!  We are on a mission to discover and reward everyday acts of kindness.  But those who are the most kind and most thoughtful are often the least likely to share their quietly heroic deeds.  So we need your help!  Do you know someone trophy-worthy, someone whose acts of kindness uppercase or lower make the world happier and gentler? Please help us find the next winner of a Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy!  Nominate someone (or several someones) in the comments section below or post your choice in social media using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  Find us on Facebook or Twitter.  Please share your story and help kindness spread in 2020.

Giving Thanks For Random (and Not So Random) Acts of Kindness: Introducing the No Paws Left Behind Award

Staci Alonso quote

Meet Staci Alonso, founder of Noah’s Animal House. Congratulations, Staci, on winning Trophy Central’s No Paw Left Behind Award! You truly are a hero.

The holiday season is upon us. And we hope to interrupt your daily deluge of emails promoting extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals with a plea to remember to make time in your day (and room in your heart) for kindness.

We hope the story of our latest Random Acts or Trophy-ness winner inspires you to do just that!

Meet Staci Alonso, founder of Noah’s Animal House and winner of our No Paw Left Behind Award: For Helping Abused Women Find Safe Havens for Themselves and Their Pets.

When Alonso was a board member of a women’s shelter back in 2004, she learned that most domestic violence shelters don’t accept pets. Alonso was devastated to discover that too often, women return to dangerous living situations because they can’t bear to leave abusive spouses if it means leaving their beloved fur babies as well.

She decided to be part of the solution. Three years later, she opened Noah’s House in Nevada, a shelter for pets located on the grounds of a women’s shelter.

That way, women can know their pets are safe and well-taken care of — and can visit them any time they like — as they work on their own survival at the women’s shelter. As Alonso says: ”They check in to the women’s shelter, and the pets are right next door at Noah’s. And they’re free of abuse and safe.”

Staci Alonso trophy

Welcome to Trophy Central’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness family, Staci Alonso!

More than Trophy-Worthy

Noah’s has “cuddle rooms” which are designed like little living rooms. Women can walk over to Noah’s from the women’s shelter and cuddle with their fur babies in the cuddle rooms. Alonso says she’ll often look into the cuddle rooms and see a dog on the couch and a woman on the floor. She loves seeing that, as it’s a sign that despite the woman going through probably one of the hardest times in her life, at least one thing is still normal: Her fur baby being treated like royalty.

Noah’s also has outdoor dog runs, cat condos, grooming and on-site vets. Alonso says: “Our model at Noah’s is to remove any level of stress that the woman could experience and treat the pets like they were checking into a boarding facility or a hotel. So, our services include the food; and if it’s prescription food, then we get the special diet food. We take care of any medical need that is required — the vaccinations, spay and neutering. And when the women leave, we give them a to-go package and it’s a kennel or a crate, beds, toys and food for the month. We also give them a gift card for that next round of food, or litter, whatever they need. We take care of everything.”

How amazing and heart-warming is that?!

Staci Alonso with rescue dogs.

Thank you for all you do, Staci! You are more than trophy-worthy.

Not So Random, But Oh-So Important

Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign was launched to celebrate small gestures by big-hearted people, to give a voice – and a shiny reward – to those who selflessly provide comfort and joy to others in dollop-sized doses.

Opening a pet shelter adjacent to a women’s shelter is neither random nor small. So it may seem that our campaign has lost its focus. It has not.

Domestic violence is a huge problem. Every nine seconds, a woman is beaten by her partner. And millions of women continue to face the dilemma that Noah’s Animal House has eased – stay with an abusive partner or leave a furry family member behind.

So we are skirting our own rules a bit to encourage others to make not-so-small, not-so-random gestures to provide refuge and a new beginning to both women and their pets.

If you can foster a pet while a woman is in a domestic violence shelter, call your local women’s shelter to volunteer your services. If you have the time and resources to petition and fundraise for women’s shelters to open their own animal shelters like Noah’s, do that. A little kindness goes a long way. All you have to do is get started.

Woman petting dog.

Team Trophy Central wishes peace on earth for one and all this holiday season — and always.

Happy Holidays to our “Show Us Your Sue” family! Inspired by our desire to give out shiny trophies to the often-overlooked Sue Hecks of the world, we are on a mission to reward everyday acts of kindness — or trophy-ness, as we call them! Do you know someone who is making the world a better place, with acts of kindness big or small? Then please “Show Us Your Sue” by nominating them to win our next Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy! You can write your nomination in the comments section below or do it on social media using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. We can’t wait to hear your story of kindness!

The ‘No Bullying in My Classroom’ Award: Our Latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness Winner Announced!

A classroom united thanks to an unforgettable lesson courtesy of teacher Laura Snyder.

A classroom united thanks to an unforgettable lesson courtesy of teacher Laura Snyder.

Continuing on our anti-bullying theme from last month, we are awarding a teacher (for the second month in a row!) with our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.

October’s trophy winner is Florida elementary school teacher Laura Snyder.  She is the recipient of the No Bullying in My Classroom Award.  Engraved on her personalized trophy: T is for T-Shirt (and Tenderhearted Teacher!)

The story begins with Snyder announcing to her class an upcoming “College Colors Day”.  Where students can wear gear from their favorite college — or show their support by sporting their favorite college’s team colors.

A boy in Snyder’s class got all excited and told Snyder he really, REALLY wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt, but didn’t have one.  Snyder told him he could wear orange to show his UT pride, and the boy loved that idea.  He loved it so much, in fact, that he told Snyder every day leading up to College Colors Day that he was going to wear an orange shirt to cheer on UT!

Then when College Colors Day finally arrived, the boy showed up to school wearing an orange shirt and a UT logo he had drawn himself, on a piece of paper affixed to his shirt.  He was so excited about it and so proud to show Snyder.  But when he came back to class after lunch, he was in tears.

Student's homemade tee shirt sparks anti-bullying movement.

Student’s homemade tee shirt sparks anti-bullying movement.

Some girls had made fun of his homemade UT sign on his orange shirt, completely deflating all his joy and pride.

Snyder decided she wanted to buy the boy a UT shirt to make him feel better, and took to Facebook to post about the bullying event, asking if anyone had any contacts at the University of Tennessee who could perhaps “make it a little extra special for him.”

Her post ended up going viral, and kindness would soon override the cruelty of bullying.

Orange You Glad You Chose Kindness?

 The University of Tennessee sent Snyder’s student a giant care package overflowing with UT swag.

Snyder describes the event beautifully:

“I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming. My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box. He proudly put on the jersey and one of the many hats in the box. All who saw had either goosebumps or tears.”

Special delivery! Teacher's kindness inspires gift to deserving student.

Teacher’s kindness prompts special delivery to deserving student.

But Snyder had an even bigger surprise for her student: The University of Tennessee had decided to turn the boy’s hand-drawn UT design into an actual T-shirt, with a portion of sales going to an anti-bullying foundation.

Snyder says: “When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped. He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew”.

Team Trophy Central would like to thank Snyder for teaching her students that acts of kindness have the power to make magic happen.

Awesome humans rocking University of Tennessee tee designed by bullied student.

Awesome humans rocking University of Tennessee tee designed by bullied student. A portion of every sale supports anti-bullying foundation.

Acts of kindness like hers can have such a ripple effect, proven by all the heartfelt comments written to her student on Facebook (and Snyder says she will be reading a couple kind comments to her students every day: “By the looks of it, he will have enough to hear every day for the rest of this school year.”)

What an important lesson she taught her students: Bullying will absolutely not be tolerated.  And that something a couple mean girls make fun of can actually be a brilliant creation that inspires thousands.

Show Us Your Sue!

For those of you who don’t know, our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign — in which we send out monthly trophies to those making the world a better place with their acts of kindness — was originally inspired by the quirky, perpetually optimistic Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck was the girl who tried out for everything but never got chosen (except for her beloved “no cuts cross country team” that accepted everyone).  But no matter how many times she got rejected, she kept trying out, kept auditioning.

Team Trophy Central admired her passion and persistence, as well as her determination to make things happen for herself.  When she was rejected as a cheerleader, she started her own team called the Wrestlerettes.  She cheered her heart out for her high school wrestling team, along with a handful of other beautiful misfits, and the joy she exuded while doing so was beyond heartwarming and smile-inducing.

Sue Heck inspired all her peers with her optimism and can-do attitude. No matter how many times she fell, she got right back up.  She dusted herself off and scattered metaphorical glitter in the air — which most definitely reached her naysayers.

And Sue Heck inspired us as a mascot for our Random Acts of Trophy-ness initiative.  Sue Heck isn’t the type of person to typically win a trophy, but she is SO trophy-worthy in our eyes because she makes the world a better place by being herself.

We want to send out trophies to the Sue Hecks of the world, the Laura Snyders of the world.  So what are you waiting for?  Go ahead and “Show Us Your Sue”!

Congratulations, Laura! Thank you for inspiring a ripple effect of kindness.

Congratulations, Laura! Thank you for inspiring a ripple effect of kindness.

To nominate the next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner, please leave a comment below about why your pick deserves a trophy You can also tag us on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  Don’t forget to tell us why your nominee is trophy-worthy!  What are they doing to make the world a kinder, gentler place?  We can’t wait to reward acts of kindness with a shiny, personalized trophy!

The Cutting-Edge Kindness Trophy: For Snipping Away at Classroom Bullying

Texas teacher and student share same haircut

Kindergarten teacher Shannon Grimm chops hair into pixie cut in solidarity with student bullied for a similar ‘do.

“My students mean more to me than my hair.”  That’s what Texas kindergarten teacher Shannon Grimm said in a Facebook live video explaining why she cut her long hair into a pixie cut.  Shannon loved her long hair and admits that she feels a little self-conscious with short hair, but the reasoning behind her makeover is one she feels strongly about: standing in solidarity with a student of hers named Prisilla.

Prisilla was scared to come to school because her classmates made fun of her short hair and said she looks like a boy.

Grimm talked to her students, explaining that gender has nothing to do with what your hair looks like—and that what matters most is who you are on the inside—but she didn’t feel it made enough of an impact.

So she decided to make a bold statement—and teach a lasting lesson—by chopping off her hair to look like Prisilla’s.

Short hair, don't care! Shannon Grimm teaches her students a lesson in kindness.

Short hair, don’t care! Shannon Grimm teaches her students a lesson in kindness.

When Grimm debuted her new haircut, her own son told her she looked like a boy, mimicking the taunts her students directed at Prisilla.  This just made Grimm more adamant that she had made the right decision.

Because, just as a “bikini body”—as the feminist memes say—is any body that wears a bikini, a “girl’s haircut” is any haircut worn by a girl.  Short, long, curly, straight; blonde, brunette, red or blue; braided or buzzed off—gender is not defined by hair.

And childhood bullying leaves lasting scars, often well into adulthood.  Childhood is a scary time, where no one wants to stand out and be picked apart, least of all for being or looking “different”.  If only we all had a teacher like Grimm to stand up for us and make us stand a little taller ourselves, childhood—and adulthood—would be a kinder, gentler time.

That’s why Grimm is the latest winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  Her customized trophy reads: “The Cutting-Edge Kindness Award: Snipping Away at Classroom Bullying”.

Teaching kindness award | Trophy Central

TrophyCentral Random Acts Winner – Shannon Grimm

There’s a Trophy For That

When we started our monthly Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign four and a half years ago, it was precisely to reward people like Grimm.

Originally inspired by the Sue Heck character of the sitcom The Middle, we set out to reward underdogs and everyday heroes with shiny trophies.

We’re a trophy company, so we’re used to making trophies for sports stars and talented thespians.  And we love it.

But we couldn’t help noticing that people do trophy-worthy things every day—like being kind and inspiring others—without much acclaim.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Our “Show Us Your Sue” namesake, for instance, inspired her entire graduating class with her positive nature and can-do attitude.  Sue Heck was never the most talented, was always a little quirky and clumsy.  She wasn’t the typical “trophy recipient”.  But just like there’s no “typical” beach body or girl’s haircut, there’s “typical” trophy recipient—or shouldn’t be!—and we set out to change that.

Everyday kindness matters.  Boosting a girl’s confidence and standing up to bullies matters.  And there should always be a trophy for that!

Kindness Matters

In her Facebook live video, Grimm said that she can’t be there to protect her students after they leave school, can’t tuck them into bed knowing they’re safe, as she does with her own children.  But she can do everything in her power to make sure they feel safe and supported in school, hoping they’ll take her kindness lessons home with them.

She says “I don’t want my students to ever feel like their confidence is down, that they don’t want to come to school because of the way people look at them and say things to them.  I want them to come to school and love being at school.”

Thank you, Shannon Grimm, for making the world a kinder place, one student at a time.

Thank you, Shannon Grimm, for making the world a kinder place, one student at a time.

Priscilla, for one, is grateful.  She loves the matching hair bows Grimm bought for the two of them, and even presented Grimm with a medal for being her hero at a recent school board meeting.

Team Trophy Central is grateful, too.  Thank you, Shannon Grimm for putting Priscilla’s confidence above your vanity (and by the way, we think your pixie cut is as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside!) Thank you for teaching Prisilla and those who taunted her what it means to be brave, what it means to stand up to bullies.  And thank you for teaching your students that looks don’t define us.  You are the epitome of trophy-worthy in our eyes, and we know Sue Heck would agree.

Trophy Central readers: Do YOU know an everyday hero who inspires?  Someone who makes the world a kinder, gentler place just by being part of it?  Then “Show Us Your Sue”!  Nominate the next recipient of our monthly Random Acts Of Trophy-ness “Show UsYour Sue” award in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using our #ShowUsYourSue hashtag.  We can’t wait to reward your nominee with a special shiny trophy!

Gifting Socks and Warming Feet (and Hearts!): Our Latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness Winner Announced!

Socks

There’s something intimate about giving someone a pair of socks. It’s something a good friend or family member does. Socks are such a tiny little item, something easily forgotten in the course of a day. Unless your feet are cold or wet. Then they are everything.

Putting on a pair of socks, especially one given to you — perhaps when you’re staying over at a friend’s house and didn’t think to bring an extra pair — is pure comfort. It’s like enveloping your feet with love.

Team Trophy Central wouldn’t be waxing poetic about socks if we didn’t have a very good reason. Which we do! Our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner is Serena Christian, AKA “The Sock Lady”.

The inscription on the specially customized trophy we sent her reads: Warm Heart, Warm Feet Award: Giving Oregon’s homeless fresh socks for a fresh start.

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Sock-It-To-You With Love

Serena, a massage therapist, spends her time driving around Oregon and handing out fresh, clean socks to homeless people. Often she fills the socks with other goodies, such as tooth brushes, granola bars, flashlights and cheerful notes.

More than 2,100 people in Lane County, Oregon are homeless, and Serena is making a difference by gifting them with their number one requested item, which happens to be socks. Serena says: “When you put on a fresh pair of socks you change.” It’s true. Sometimes the seemingly simplest things make such a difference. Putting on a fresh pair of socks can feel like a hug, especially if they’re given to you by someone who cares.

Congratulations, Serena, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you’re doing to make a difference in the lives of homeless people. Many people are just one missed paycheck away from ending up on the streets, so homelessness is a topic we can’t look away from.

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Unlikely (But Oh-So Worthy!) Trophy Winners

When Team Trophy Central started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, we had no idea of all the wonderful stories we would learn about in our quest to reward kindness. Each month, we feel as lucky and happy as the recipients of our kindness awards because we get to have our hearts warmed all over again by tales of people (and animals) doing good.

“What’s ‘Show Us Your Sue’?” you may ask! Well, Team Trophy Central’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign was originally inspired by the always-making-lemonade-out-of-lemons character Sue Heck on the sitcom The Middle. We set out to reward everyday heroes who make the world a better place by being themselves. And Sue Heck became our mascot because she’s the kind of person not likely to win a trophy in traditional trophy-awarding spheres. She’s clumsy and quirky, not particularly talented or athletic. But she is the epitome of trophy-worthy in our eyes because of her can-do spirit that inspires others to never give up on their dreams.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

It’s our goal to send out monthly trophies to the Sue Hecks of the world, those whose good deeds may be going unrecognized but who deserve ALL THE RECOGNITION in our opinion!

Team Trophy Central is delighted to add The Sock Lady to our list of Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winners.

Congratulations (and thank you!!) again, Serena!

Team Trophy Central has a challenge for you: Warm our hearts with the story of someone who is making the world a better place with their kindness, and we will pay it forward by sending them a shiny, customized trophy! Nominate the next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using our #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. Thank you in advanced for warming our hearts and making us smile!

The Hush Puppies Award: For Soothing Four-Footed Friends on the Fourth

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Team Trophy Central is honored to present July’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness award to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Phoenix, Arizona for their “Calming the Canines” program.  Implemented for the first time in 2018 (and back this year because of its rousing success) “Calming the Canines” takes place during the fireworks on Independence Day.  Instead of going out to watch the fireworks, Phoenix residents come to the shelter to soothe animals scared by the loud banging noises — by reading to them, singing to them, feeding them treats and giving them love.

Trophy Central Random Acts of Trophy-ness award

Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control

As most pet parents know, the fourth of July can be one of the hardest nights of the year.  Fireworks and firecrackers can be traumatic for animals, who pant, quiver in fear and try to hide to escape their panic.  More pets are lost on July 4th than any other time of the year because they bolt trying to escape the booming explosions of noise.

For animals caged in shelters, it can be even more traumatic.

Team Trophy Central applauds the good people of Phoenix who choose to comfort shelter animals on the fourth.  We thank you with all our hearts for your kindness.

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Trophy Central Random Acts Award – Maricopa Country Animal Care

We are immensely grateful to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control for coming up with such a meaningful program that shows how much they care about the animals in their shelter.

We are also moved to hear that many people who participated in last year’s “Calming the Canines” event decided to volunteer at the shelter, foster or adopt after spending time with the animals on Independence Day.  We hope the same is true of those who attended this year, as there are so many loving animals in shelters deserving of kindness — and forever homes.

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Maricopa Country Animal Care – Resting Dog

Everyday Acts of Trophy-ness

Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award was inspired by the perpetually optimistic and persistent Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle.

When Team Trophy Central decided we wanted to send out monthly trophies to individuals changing the world by being themselves, Sue Heck became our muse.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck award | Trophy Central

Mostly because she’s not the type of person who would typically win a trophy.  She’s not the most talented or athletic.  She can be awkward and is definitely quirky.  But that’s exactly why we love her.  Sue Heck is unabashedly herself.  She doesn’t dim her sparkle or enthusiasm for anyone.  She doesn’t let rejection slow her down and she makes things happen for herself.  She inspires others because she never, EVER gives up, and we think she’s trophy-worthy because there is no one else like her.  Her inherent “Sue”-ness makes the world a better, brighter place.

We want to reward the Sue Hecks of the world, those who change the world by being themselves.  We want to celebrate everyday acts of kindness (or, as we call them, everyday acts of trophy-ness!)

Congratulations to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control on joining our “Show Us Your Sue” family.  Your kindness toward animals is the epitome of trophy-worthy.  We hope other shelters will follow in your footsteps and implement similar programs on the fourth of July.  The animals deserve it.

Do YOU know someone who is trophy-worthy?  Someone whose kindness is making the world a better place?  Then please “Show Us Your Sue”!  We want to send out shiny trophies to underdogs, dreamers and everyday heroes who inspire.  Please nominate the next winner of our monthly Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award in the comments section below or on Twitter or Facebook  using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  We cant wait to reward them for their trophy-ness!

The Wags for Words Award: Helping Children Read—One Word, One Tail Wag at a Time

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Dogs don’t judge.  They love unconditionally, are naturally soothing and petting them helps relieve stress and reduce blood pressure.  So says science — and anyone who’s ever known the love and joy of a doggie companion.

Indiana based program Paws to Read, a division of the non-profit organization Paws & Think, is the latest kindness-based initiative we are highlighting with our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  We are honoring Emily Dougherty, the Paws to Read Program Coordinator, with our Wags for Words Award for helping children forge friendships with books and dogs.

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The mission of Paws to Read is simple: Bring children who are having difficulty reading together with therapy dogs who will reduce their anxiety and improve their focus.  Kids can read to dogs free of judgment.

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Anyone who’s ever been called on to read aloud in class knows (regardless of reading ability) that it can be stressful.  Who among us doesn’t remember the heart-racing adrenaline of being assigned this task, the embarrassment of stumbling over a word, or perhaps the feeling of lightheadedness that comes from not taking a breath at the end of a sentence?

As is true with most everything, dogs make this better.

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In libraries and schools in Central Indiana, kids get to read to dogs without embarrassment or fear.  Because dogs provide an intrinsic relaxing and encouraging atmosphere, children can learn to read without getting in their heads and getting in their own way.  Dogs’ naturally soothing energy provides the safe-space feeling kids need to truly learn.

Dogs and learning to read — what could be better than that?!

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Redefining Trophy-Worthy

For those of you new to Trophy Central (welcome!) it’s important for us to note how cool it is to send a shiny trophy to Indiana, the home state of Sue Heck from the sitcom The MiddleThis is only the second time that’s happened in the four years we’ve been sending out monthly “Show Us Your Sue” trophies, and it’s very smile-inducing.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck was the inspiration behind our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award because we have always found her positive, sparkly nature and her persistent, can-so spirit beyond admirable.  When we decided we wanted to give out trophies to people making the world a better place by being themselves, Sue Heck quickly became our mascot.  Because she’s not the kind of person who typically wins trophies.

Sue Heck has never been the most athletic or the most talented.  But in our minds, she is SO trophy-worthy because she never, EVER gives up on her dreams (and she inspires others to do the same).

We couldn’t be more thrilled to congratulate Emily Dougherty on winning our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award for all she does to connect children to dogs and reading!  Thank you so much for all that you do!

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Trophy Central readers: Do YOU know someone who deserves a shiny trophy?!  Someone who is making the world a better place by being themselves?  Then please “Show Us Your Sue”!  We want to send trophies to the underdogs of the world, those who would not generally be in the running to win a trophy but who are SO trophy-worthy because they are changing the world with their kindness and amazing spirits.  The Sue Hecks of the world who don’t make the cheerleading squad so go out and create their own darn teams!!  If you would like to nominate someone to win our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, please write to us and tell us WHY your nominee is trophy-worthy.  You can nominate our next trophy winner in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  We LOVE rewarding kindness and good deeds, love celebrating people who are unabashedly themselves and who inspire others to follow their dreams. 

A Trophy Central-Inspired Kindness Ceremony: Congratulations to These Kind and Thoughtful Elementary School Students!

Kindness Trophies Trophy Central

Eight months ago, Team Trophy Central received a note from Show Us Your Sue alum Jill Cofsky, who won our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award four years ago for Excellence in Teaching and Inspiring Students.

She wrote to tell us that after teaching in her own classroom for almost 20 years, she had just accepted a position as her school’s Reading Specialist.  And that, as part of her new position:  “I’ve suggested that the end-of-the-year reward for students who have shown the most kindness throughout the year be a nice, shiny, kindness trophy! I showed the committee the one you sent me!! I’ll let you know if they decide to go with my great idea!! I think the kids would love your personalized trophies!”

Custom Engraved Award for Trophy Central's Show Us Your Sue winner Jill Cofsky for Teaching Excellence

“Show Us Your Sue” alum Jill Cofsky won our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award four years ago for Excellence in Teaching and Inspiring Students.

Of course Team Trophy Central wrote her back to congratulate her on her amazing new role and to thank her for thinking of us and our trophies.  But even more than that, to thank her for thinking of us in regard to kindness. 

When we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign four years ago, we had two goals in mind: to deliver smiles to those making the world a better place by being themselves, and also to inspire more and more acts of kindness.  So it means the world whenever anyone associates Trophy Central with kindness because we truly believe that kindness has a ripple effect.  The more kindness we witness, the more kindness we exude.

Everyday Acts of Kindness, Each and Every Day!

We were thrilled to hear that Jill’s school, Chaffee Elementary School in Oxford, Massachusetts, had partnered with the 365Z Foundation, a free program to encourage students to be kind to each other each and every day.

And super excited to hear back in May that Jill’s school committee had decided to go with her amazing idea to award kindness trophies to students who had demonstrated the most kindness throughout the year!

Students with Kindness Trophies Trophy Central

Front row left to right: Joshua G., Mario, Hailey, Caleb, and William. | Back row left to right: Liam, McKenna, Ethan, and Joshua A. | The trophy winners pictured here are with their school principal, Mr. Rob Pelczarski aka “Captain Kindness.” | Not in photo: Emily W., Bridget, and Hunter.

On June 3rd, Jill’s school had an official Kindness Assembly where students were awarded with Trophy Central’s kindness trophies. 

Jill writes:

Students were able to earn recognition for showing kindness throughout the year. There were four events. Each term, teachers honored students who had shown kindness and a commitment to helping someone in some way, every day!

“Students could earn a certificate, then other small rewards each term if they showed a personal commitment to helping others.

“The final Kindness Assembly culminated with a small group of students, who were exceptional role models of kindness, being awarded super-cool trophies created by Trophy Central!! They were thrilled!

“We plan on continuing the 365Z Foundation’s mission of spreading kindness in our school and our community and taking action in our commitment to helping others next school year as well!!”

How incredible is that?!!

Congratulations to Chaffee Elementary School students Joshua G., Mario, Hailey, Caleb, William, Liam, McKenna, Ethan, Joshua A., Emily W., Bridget and Hunter on exhibiting extreme kindness year-round!!  We are so honored to have been able to make your special custom kindness trophies to reward you for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

Captain Kindness and the Kindness Café

We would be remiss if we did not giddily recount the fact that Chaffee Elementary School principal, Mr. Rob Pelczarski, donned a superhero cape as Captain Kindness to hand out our kindness trophies at the Kindness Assembly!

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Chaffee Elementary School principal, Mr. Rob Pelczarski, AKA Captain Kindness, handing out kindness trophies at the Kindness Assembly.

Jill tells Team Trophy Central that he also donned his cape to have lunch each term with the students recognized as the kindest-of-the-kind in what is designated as the Kindness Café!

Jill says: “The Kindness Café is a room in our school where our principal placed tables with tablecloths (rather than desks) where he eats lunch with the students who have been recognized that term for their Acts of Kindness.

“The recognition does not come from one instance/act of kindness but is given to those students who show consistent kindness and helpfulness in some way, every day! Using polite manners, showing kindness to a classmate, offering to help a teacher, being a good friend, etc. Therefore, being a trophy winner (by earning a reward all four terms of the year) certainly proves that these students are being positive role models and making a difference in the lives of those around them!”

Inside the Kindness Cafe

Kindness Award winners enjoying lunchtime at the Kindness Cafe. Bravo, students!

Team Trophy Central would like to thank Jill Cofsky, Principal Pelczarski and Lisa Casillo, Chaffee Elementary’s Mindfulness teacher who brought the 365Z Program to their school.

Jill says: “I’m delighted to share the amazing success of our new program thanks to Lisa, Mr. P. and our staff, and, most of all, our Kindness Award winners at Chaffee!”

Team Trophy Central concurs!

Kindness Sparkles

We send heartfelt thanks to Jill for thinking of us and our kindness trophies, originally inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle.  We wanted to give out trophies to the Sue Hecks of the world, those perhaps not likely to win trophies in traditional trophy-giving spheres like sports and performance arts, but who are SO TROPHY-WORTHY because they make the world a better, more sparkly place by being themselves.

Trophy Central Sue Heck Superhero Award -- Celebrating Inspiring People and Stories -- trophycentral.com

Thank you to Jill for supporting our mission to reward and inspire kindness year-round.

We hope more and more schools will follow the excellent example of Chaffee Elementary School and their students who are leading the way with their inspiring acts of kindness.

Congratulations again to all the kindness award winners, and thank you Chaffee Elementary for allowing Team Trophy Central to be a part of such an incredible event.

Getting to see the pictures of your students smiling with our trophies is the best gift we could possibly ask for!

Let’s keep this kindness party going!  Who would YOU like to see be honored with one of our shiny kindness trophies?!  Do you know someone who is making the world a better place by being in it?  Then #ShowUsYourSue!  Nominate our next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue!  We can’t wait to send the next winner a trophy to reward their kindness!