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.

Sock_Lady_Homeless_Socks

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!

Captain Kindness Trophy Central

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!

The Honorable Spring Break Award: Spreading Kindness, One City at a Time

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April’s “Show Us Your Sue” trophy is extra exciting to Team Trophy Central because it is being rewarded to three high school students in Indiana, the home state of TV’s fictional Sue Heck, the inspiration behind our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign to reward everyday heroes who make the world a better place.

Sue Heck, from the sitcom The Middle, was the high school student who tried out for every team, every sport, every talent show, but who never got picked.  (Except for her saving-grace athletic endeavor, the No-Cuts Cross Country team, where everybody who tried out made it, which was giddiness personified for happy-dancing Sue Heck!)

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Team Trophy Central fell in love with Sue Heck’s passionate persistence.  No matter how many times she tried something and failed, she never, EVER gave up.  When she didn’t make it as a cheerleader, she started her own cheering squad, The Wrestlerettes, a team of dance-like-no-one’s-watching misfits who cheered on the high school wrestling team (because no one else did) with unbeatable fervor and quirkiness.

Sue Heck epitomizes the idea that failure is not the end, only a stepping stone to a greater accomplishment.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, her make-lemons-out-of-lemonade attitude awe-inspiring.

When Team Trophy Central set out to deliver a monthly trophy to someone who is making the world a better place by being him/herself, we couldn’t think of a better mascot than Indiana native Sue Heck.

Planned Random Acts of Kindness

We hope you can feel our excitement as we announce our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winners from Sue Heck’s neck of the woods: Whitko High School seniors Charlie French, Lizz Foutz and Sam Rickerd, who we are celebrating with the Honorable Spring Break Award for spreading kindness, one city at a time.

Whitko students Random Acts of Kindness trip

Sam Rickerd, Charlie French, Brandy Smith and daughter Amira, and Lizz Foutz on the far right, standing in front of the Badlands in South Dakota. The group, as part of Whitko’s National Honor Society, made the trip on a Random Acts of Kindness mission.

This is really cool: Charlie, Lizz and Sam, all National Honor Society Students, spent their spring break visiting eight different states in nine days for what they called their “Planned Random Acts of Kindness Road Trip”.  Along with teacher Brandy Smith, their National Honor Society sponsor, they accumulated 2,000 miles’ worth of good deeds.

In Rochester, Minnesota, the students visited the Ronald McDonald House at the Mayo Clinic, where they handed out pillowcases they had decorated to uplift patients.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, they cleaned up the YMCA, which flooded one week before their arrival.  Senior Lizz Foutz says “They had just been devastated with a flood and it was really nice to know that we could help them out in a big way. They were so grateful to have us there.”

Charlie French, Lizz Foutz and Sam Rickerd

Road Trip Rewards

Sam Rickerd, Whitko High School’s Valedictorian, says “It was very impactful to see the horrible damage caused by a flood of that magnitude, but also to see the smiles on the faces of the camp directors as we gradually improved the conditions of the camp.”

Rickerd took the lead at a hospital gravesite in Minnesota, where immigrants to the US in the 1800s had been buried in makeshift graves (coffee and bean cans filled with cement in lieu of headstones).  The students cleaned up the grave site and had some deep discussions about how many of the graves remained unmarked, as though immigrants to the US didn’t even deserve names.  They talked about how much remained unchanged some 200 years later, when tensions on the politics of immigration remain high — and volatile.

Senior Charlie French says that their Planned Random Acts of Kindness Road Trip taught him “how to cooperate with other people who have different personalities,” adding: “I feel that this helped me grow as a person.”

Road Trip

Kindness Matters

Team Trophy Central would like to wholeheartedly thank Charlie, Lizz and Sam (as well a their mentor, Brandy Smith) for using their spring break to spread kindness and goodwill.  We hope that the Planned Random Acts of Kindness Road Trip becomes a yearly tradition at Whitko — and that other students at other schools copycat this heartwarming endeavor.

Congratulations, Charlie, Lizz and Sam!  We hope that your Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” trophy will remind you of the ever-expanding reach of kindness.

Now it’s your turn to… Show Us Your Sue!  In the comments section below (or on our Twitter or Facebook page, using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue!) please nominate the next recipient of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  Don’t hold back on telling us WHY your nominee is trophy-worthy.  The more gushing, the better!

Awarding Kindness and Celebrating Trophy Central’s Brand New Compassion Scholarship!

Trophy Central Compassionate Scholarship

Trophy Central 2018 Compassionate Scholarship Award

Team Trophy Central has some exciting news: we started a scholarship program to help deserving high school seniors pay for college!  Students showing extreme sportsmanship, compassion or kindness have the opportunity to be awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Trophy Central toward their first year’s tuition and (drum roll, please!) we have chosen our first winner.

Meet Devon Willis, a Texas student who launched a YouTube video campaign that raised over $80,000 to help her best friend’s brother afford a heart transplant. Besides being the first winner of Trophy Central’s Compassion Scholarship, Devon is also the latest winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward everyday heroes who inspire.

We engraved Devon’s custom trophy with these words: The Compassionate Heart Award.

Devon Willis

It was Devon’s compassionate heart that propelled her to do everything in her power to help gift Anthony, her best friend’s brother, with a new healthy, compassionate heart of his own.

In Devon’s YouTube video, she told Anthony’s story by holding up words and drawings on multiple sheets of paper, reminiscent of the famous Love Actually scene.  Devon explained that Anthony was born with a broken heart and, despite nine surgeries to fix it, his heart was still not mended and needed to be replaced. She then asked everyone to donate $1.40 on February 14th: “While you are thinking about your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, please also think about his sweet heart. His sweet broke heart.”  This was six years ago.

Anthony recently celebrated his fifth anniversary of receiving his heart transplant, and this was possible because of Devon’s kindness and her passionate determination to help.

A Heartwarming Friend and Dedicated Advocate

Besides making her YouTube video (which she says “reached all seven continents and eventually the International Space Station”!) Devon also sold raffle tickets outside her local rodeo for a town-wide raffle her mom helped plan to raise money for Anthony’s heart transplant surgery. Devon also spoke passionately about Anthony and her mission to help raise money for his heart transplant on three local news stations, helping to build publicity for her fundraising efforts with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. Devon was interviewed for newspaper articles and became an outspoken advocate for Anthony while at the same time tending to her best friend’s needs: “I did everything I could to bring light to my best friend and pay attention to her as all the attention went to her younger brother. I laughed with her and was there to be a support system as she cried. I made efforts to make her feel loved and remembered, because I could never forget her.” 

It takes a lot of heart to help your best friend cope with the fear and sadness of having a brother who needs heart transplant surgery. And even more heart to launch a powerful campaign to help make his surgery possible. Team Trophy Central is honored to recognize Devon’s kindness and ambition to make a difference.

When we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign four years ago, our goal was to reward the kindness of magnanimous people just like Devon!  People with compassionate hearts who make the world a better place by being themselves. We saw an “untapped market” in the land of trophy winners. Sure, people regularly won trophies for excelling in sports and other extracurricular activities, but how many people won trophies for everyday acts of kindness (or, as we call them: everyday acts of trophy-ness!)?

Calling All Sparkly, Quirky, Persistent and Kind Sue Hecks of the World!

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Inspired by the Sue Heck character from the sitcom The Middle, we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward the Sue Hecks of the world: people who may not be athletically or artistically gifted but who make the world a better place simply by being in it. Sue’s optimism is contagious, her persistence and dedication inspiring. The fact of the matter is, Sue (just like the Instagram memes advise) leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes. Sue embraces her quirkiness and never ceases to make bright pink lemonade out of dull bitter lemons. And we want to reward the sparkly, quirky Sues of the world — the people who make us smile and warm our hearts.

People like Devon, whose compassionate spirit helped Anthony get a new heart. Team Trophy Central thanks you, Devon, with all our hearts, for your kindness that inspires us all.

Let’s keep the compassion going! Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign is only as good as the nominations we receive. So please #ShowUsYourSue! Nominate the next winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign here in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue. We will be sending out a shiny trophy next month to the latest winner. Who will it be?!

Meet the Winner of The Unstoppable Force Award & Get Inspired by Another Random Act of Trophy-ness

Candice Payne Trophy Central

Candice Payne proves the (multiplying) power of helping those in need.

Unlike with previous Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winners, you’ve probably already heard of Candice Payne, the Chicago real estate investor who purchased 30 hotel rooms for homeless people during the polar vortex that turned Chicago colder than Antarctica. The story has gone viral. If you didn’t read about it in The New York Times or watch Candice tell her story on Ellen, you likely saw posts about it on social media.

Team Trophy Central realizes this heartwarming story doesn’t need any more publicity, but Candice’s act of kindness really touched our hearts. It epitomizes the very reason we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign — not merely to reward acts of kindness, but also to inspire more kind acts. We believe that the more our hearts are touched by kindness, the more we want to warm others’ hearts with kindness as well. Kindness inspires kindness, and we want to keep passing the kindness on!

We love how genuine Candice’s act of kindness was. She decided she was going to stay warm and toasty in her home during the polar vortex rather than going into work, so called her assistants and told them to stay home as well. Then she got to thinking: What about the people who don’t have a home to stay in when it’s literally freezing out? As she mentioned on Ellen, many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless. Her own boyfriend used to be homeless. The stigma attached to being homeless — laziness, stupidity — is just plain wrong.

The Multiplying Power of Kindness

So Candice decided she would put a bunch of hotel rooms on her credit card, called around Chicago to find a hotel that was amenable to her plan (many hotels were not — they didn’t want to house homeless people — but The Amber Inn was more than happy to help) and purchased 30 rooms for a night.

She then went on social media to see if anyone could help her transport homeless people to The Amber Inn, offering to pay anyone who would assist, and suddenly a whole lot of help flooded in. Not only did people step up to help transport homeless people to the hotel; they also put up their own money. So what started out as 30 hotel rooms for one night turned into 72 rooms for five nights. Because of Candice’s act of kindness that spurred on more and more kindness, 122 homeless people were able to have roofs over their heads to save them from freezing.

That’s why we sent Candice a Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy engraved with these words: The Unstoppable Force Award: Proving the (Multiplying) Power of Helping Those in Need.

Congratulations, Candice, on your trophy win! And thank you for your magnanimous good deed that inspired more and more acts of kindness!

Congratulations, Candice Payne! Welcome to Trophy Central's Random Acts of Trophy-ness "Show Us Your Sue" family!

Congratulations, Candice Payne! Welcome to Trophy Central’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” family!

Temporary Fix Inspires Permanent Solution

When Candice was on Ellen, she was presented with $50,000 from Walmart. Candice had purchased supplies for the homeless people she was helping at Walmart, and Walmart decided to reward her kindness with two separate giant checks (each for $25,000). Candice turned around and donated the $50,000 right into her non-profit. She had started her non-profit two years ago but hadn’t done anything with it yet. But her recent good deed inspired her to figure out what she wanted to do: use her real estate know-how to buy and renovate multi-unit buildings on the South Side of Chicago to house the homeless. She’s set up a GoFundMe campaign to help her achieve her goal. Candice says in an Instagram post that purchasing hotel rooms for the homeless was a temporary fix but her goal now is to find a permanent solution.

Four Years of Being Show Us Your Sue Strong!

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

We think that our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” namesake, Sue Heck (the perpetually optimistic and endearingly awkward character on The Middle) would be jumping for joy over all the good Candice is doing (and inspiring in others).

When we started our “Show Us Your Sue” campaign back in 2015, our goal was to find the Sue Hecks of the world, those who probably wouldn’t win a trophy under normal circumstances (Sue has never been the most athletic or the most talented) but who are beyond trophy-worthy in our eyes because they make the world a better place by being themselves. Sue Heck’s determination and optimism inspire others to persist in following their dreams. That is a HUGE feat and most admirable quality. One Candice Payne exemplifies.

Trophy Central Random Acts of Trophy-ness Show Us Your Sue award winners

But we are not through searching for Sues or giving out trophies! Do YOU know an everyday hero who makes the world a better place? Then please #ShowUsYourSue! Please nominate our 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. We can’t wait to send out the next shiny trophy!

And the Caring Heart Award Goes To…

Officer Todd Bing embracing Delores Marotta. | Image via CNN

Officer Todd Bing embracing Delores Marotta. | Image via CNN

This is a story about how one act of kindness can have a ripple effect, inspiring more and more kindness and doing more and more good.  It all started when an elderly woman named Delores Marotta went into a Michigan gas station and asked for three dollars’ worth of gas.  A police officer overheard her request and saw that she was struggling with a cane, so decided to offer to pump the gas for her.  As he was pumping the gas, they got to talking, and he found out that she needed enough gas to get to a doctor appointment, but couldn’t afford more than three dollars’ worth until her next Social Security check arrived.  She was having trouble paying her bills after her husband died and kept coming up short on cash after paying her basic living expenses.

The cop, Officer Todd Bing, pumped an additional 20 dollars’ worth of gas into Marotta’s car — out of his own pocket — and the gas station’s owner, Seth Kasyouhanan, witnessed his act of kindness.  Touched by the kind act, he took a picture of Officer Bing with Marotta and posted it onto his Facebook page, hoping to warm some hearts by showing that good people exist and random acts of kindness can make a huge impact.  The post went viral, and suddenly Kasyouhanan was receiving Facebook message after message from people who wanted to send Marotta money.

Seth Kasyouhanan, the man who set up a Go Fund Me campaign on behalf of Delores, after witnessing Officer Todd Bing's act of kindness. | Image via CNN

Inspired by Officer Bing’s act of kindness, Seth Kasyouhanan set up a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Delores. | Image via CNN

Fundraising to Change a Life

Kasyouhanan decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign on Marotta’s behalf, posting a short but sweet request: “I’m raising money for a customer of mine. She is a single elderly lady that has been struggling to pay her bills ever since her husband passed away. She’s roughly short $1000 on her bills every month. Some days she has money for gas and groceries and some days she doesn’t. I believe it’s only right to help someone that’s struggling. If we all get together and work as a team we can make this world a better place!”

The GoFundMe campaign set a goal of raising $5000 for Marotta — and raised $27,633 in the course of four months.  Many donations were small (in the five to 25 dollar range) but a whopping 887 donations added up to a lot of money and a lot of kindness — and every single dollar and act of kindness matters.

Trophy Central believes that every single person involved in helping Marotta is trophy-worthy. One of them is the winner of our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward kindness: Seth Kasyouhanan.  His personalized, engraved trophy reads: “The Caring Heart Award: Fundraising to Change a Life”.

Congratulations, Seth, on your win!  And thank you for your extreme act of kindness.

Congratulations, Seth, on winning Trophy Central's Caring Heart Award.

Congratulations, Seth, on winning Trophy Central’s Caring Heart Award.

New to “Show Us Your Sue”?

For those of you new to our “Show Us Your Sue” campaign (welcome!!) you might be wondering where it got its name. Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign was inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle. We wanted to give out trophies to people not typically recognized in traditional trophy-giving spheres. People like Sue Heck, who in middle school and high school tried out for virtually every activity, every possible performance — never to be chosen, never to win recognition. We’ve always believed that just the fact that Sue keeps trying out despite being rejected over and over again is in it of itself trophy-worthy.  Her persistence is admirable, her positivity infectious, and she’s the kind of person who inspires others with her determination and strong-will.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

The Sue Hecks of the world deserve trophies just as much as the cheerleaders and jocks.  It’s our goal to reward everyday acts of kindness (or trophy-ness!) with our custom, personalized trophies.  And we hope that by rewarding good deeds, it will propel more.  Just like how the cop’s act of kindness inspired more and more people to do good and help make a life better.  Kindness propels kindness, smiles propel smiles — and that’s what we’re all about.  It’s in our tagline.  Sure we deliver trophies, but our main goal is to deliver smiles.

We hope this story made you smile! And we hope you’ll help us deliver MORE smiles by nominating the next recipient of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award! Do YOU know any everyday hero who inspires?  Someone who makes the world a better place by being him/herself?! Then please #ShowUsYourSue! Nominate a kind person in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. We just may send them a shiny trophy to reward their kindness.

New Year, New Trophies to Reward Kindness! Introducing The Principled Principal Award

Handwritten note

Happy New Year, friends!  All of us at Trophy Central hope your holiday was filled with kindness and love.

We are certain that was the case for the staff at Berkmar High School in Georgia, where the principal, Dr. Alfred “Al” Taylor, took the time to write every single staff member a handwritten holiday card!

That act of kindness would have been special if the staff at Berkmar High School only consisted of a dozen people.  But there are almost 350 staff members at Berkmar High School, and each one got a personalized, handwritten card.

That’s why Dr. Taylor is the recipient of our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  His personalized, engraved trophy reads “The Principled Principal Award: For Spreading Kindness, One Handwritten Note at a Time.”

Congratulations, Principal Alfred Taylor, on winning Trophy Central's Random Act of Trophy-ness award! Thank you for all you do!

Congratulations, Principal Alfred Taylor, on winning Trophy Central’s Random Act of Trophy-ness award! Thank you for all you do!

A Finger-Cramping (and Trophy-Worthy) Gesture of Kindness

Imagine the time and effort that went into writing almost 350 personalized cards.  If Dr. Taylor wrote one card a day, it would have taken him almost a year to complete the task!  Not to mention all the finger cramping he must have endured!

But according to the staff at Berkmar High School, Dr. Taylor’s act of kindness was not just a one-time thing.  Dr. Taylor is said to have been writing personalized holiday cards to his staff ever since joining Berkmar High School in 2013.

In a heartfelt post on Facebook, Rebekah Cohen Morris, a veteran teacher but new to Berkmar High School, wrote: “I was moved to tears today when I received a card from our principal at Berkmar High School. He wrote each member of the faculty & staff a card with a 1-page note, personalized for each of us inside. There are almost 350 of us.  I’ve never experienced anything like that from a principal.  I can’t even tell you how kind and thoughtful and encouraging that note was. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for your leadership and inspiration.

In response to Morris’ post, shared by AJC Get Schooled, Sandra Najour, a clerk at Berkmar High School, wrote: “Every year he writes a full page to each of us… he acknowledges our accomplishments and his personal observations… our student and staff relationships and interactions… but the best part of his personal note is when he tells you ‘Berkmar is a better place because of you and your effort!!!’”

Dr Alfred Al Taylor Trophy Central

Awarding Those Who Inspire

Since Dr. Taylor is a high school principal, Team Trophy Central believes he’ll appreciate the genesis of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward everyday heroes.  Our “Show Us Your Sue” initiative began when we were inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle.  When Sue Heck was in high school she never really fit in, but it never really mattered.  When she didn’t make the cheerleading squad, she created her own team, “The Wrestlerettes,” a group of glorious misfits who cheered on the wrestling team with dance-like-no-one’s-watching gusto.  She was the kid who tried out for everything and was never chosen (except for the all-inclusive “no cut” cross country team, which she put all her heart into!)  Team Trophy Central fell in love with Sue Heck because she never, EVER gives up, no matter how many times she’s let down.  She always finds a way to be happy and to make her dreams come true, despite the obstacles, no matter how many nos she receives.  Sue Heck doesn’t let anyone or anything dim her inner sparkle.  Because of that, she inspires those around her to not only be persistent, but to be themselves.  We find the Sue Hecks of the world to be the epitome of trophy-worthy.  That’s why we created our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign: to reward the Sue Hecks who make the world a better place by being themselves.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

On the Lookout for Kindness and Inspiration

We would like to congratulate Dr. Taylor on winning our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, and to thank him for his amazing act of kindness, which inspires us greatly.

Team Trophy Central hopes all our readers will follow in Dr. Taylor’s footsteps and resolve to make 2019 a year of more kindness and love.  Because, as the hashtags on social media say, kindness matters.

Do YOU know an everyday hero who inspires?  Someone whose act of kindness made your day or week or month or even your year?!  Then please #ShowUsYourSueWe are on a mission to reward kindness with shiny trophies.  Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue campaign aims to deliver smiles to the winners of our monthly award, as a thank you for all the smiles their kindness elicited.  Please nominate the next winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag.  Please tell us why your nominee is trophy-worthy, and you just might see your pick smiling here on our Trophy Central blog, a personally engraved “Show Us Your Sue trophy in hand!

The Sidewalk Tutor Award: Kindness is Always Trophy-Worthy

Meet Ellen Jovin, creator of Grammar Table and Trophy Central's newest Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner. | Photo credit: Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Meet Ellen Jovin, creator of Grammar Table and Trophy Central’s newest Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner. | Photo credit: Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

If Team Trophy Central could develop our own holiday advent calendar, each new day would bring an act of kindness, rather than a piece of chocolate. (Although giving a friend a piece of chocolate is an act of kindness in it of itself!)  How wonderful would it be if you opened up a new day on a calendar to find a Starbucks gift card from a stranger for a warm and festive holiday drink?  Or a handwritten note from a friend telling you how amazing you are and encouraging you to keep following your dreams?

It’s the holiday season, and Team Trophy Central wants to gift you with the tale of how one New Yorker is taking to the streets to spread love, one grammatically correct sentence at a time!

We would like you to meet Ellen Jovin, communications expert and grammar guru who sets up a makeshift booth on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to talk to passersby about grammar.  Armed with a colorful hand-painted sign labeled “Grammar Table” and decorated with witty wordplay (“Semicolonphobia?”) and grammatical alliteration (“Comma Crisis?”) Jovin volunteers her time to answer any and all grammar questions. 

And not just English grammar questions.  Jovin has taught herself over 20 languages by completing a rigorous schedule that began with Russian, Arabic and Italian in 2009 and ended (thus far!) with Pashto (native to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) in 2016. 

As Jovin says on her personal website, Words & Worlds of New York, “I would love to see more Americans in particular, but also people around the world, enjoy the study of languages they did not grow up speaking.  A new language is a hand held out to one’s neighbor, an opener of doors, a new way to see, a mental tickle, a road to unmediated communication with strangers in other lands, access to the world’s news, a gesture of peace — really, language study can be anything you want to make of it.”

Grammar Table

Grammar Table art work | Photo credit: Ellen Jovin

Bonding Over Grammar

There is something so quaint about a handcrafted sign put on a table, inviting others over to communicate in real life.  Grammar Table is reminiscent of a child’s lemonade stand, something that is never really about money, but more about the experience itself.  Jovin says the reason she started Grammar Table was to get away from the often pseudo-connections found on Twitter, not to mention the hostility.  Because of the current political climate, she says, “New York City is full of seriously bummed-out people right now, but grammar gets people chatting.”

Jovin explains that “even though people get a little bit excited about the Oxford comma, they usually don’t go into a rage and block people on Facebook over it.”

So what kind of grammar conundrums do people chat about at Grammar Table? 

Everyone is invited to ask questions without being judged.  What is a gerund, for instance?  It’s a verb that has morphed into a noun after an -ing is added to it, such as play-ing or sing-ing.

Jovin is anti-grammar snobbery.  She doesn’t proclaim to have all the answers:

“The stereotype of a grammarian is ‘I tell you what’s right,’ and I don’t want it to be like that. I learn from people all the time.”

Jovin invites New Yorkers to vent over grammar gripes.  Sometimes heated discussions ensue over whether one or two spaces belong after a period — a VERY hot button grammar issue!

But often word lovers just bond over their mutual love of grammatically correct sentences.

Thank you, Ellen, for spreading love one grammatically correct sentence at a time.

Thank you, Ellen, for spreading love one grammatically correct sentence at a time.

Teaching Kindness

One particular Grammar Table interaction stood out to Team Trophy Central when we were deliberating on this month’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner.  What made us decide to send Jovin a trophy was the fact that she helped a teenage girl with her college-application essay as part of her Grammar Table kindness.

Jovin noticed a shy girl pacing by Grammar Table, unsure of whether or not to approach. So she waved her over and asked her what she could help her with.  The girl told Jovin she was originally from El Salvador and struggling with tenses in her essay.  And Jovin told her to go home and get her essay so she could help her with it!

The girl returned with her essay in hand and Jovin helped her work on it for a half hour at Grammar Booth.  That act of kindness won her our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” trophy!  Engraved on her trophy are these words:

Sidewalk Tutor Award: Spreading Love One Grammatically Correct Sentence at a Time

Ellen Jovin Sidewalk Tutor Award Trophy Central

Congratulations, Ellen Jovin, on your trophy win!  Thank you for taking the time to teach grammar on the streets of New York.  You exemplify the kindness and empathy of the kind of teacher we will always remember: the one who encouraged us, believed in us, and pushed us to not only learn, but to LOVE learning.

What is our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award?  It’s the monthly trophy we send out to reward everyday acts of kindness.  People win trophies all the time for traditional activities like sports and choir.  We’re not knocking those wins (we LOVE making trophies for athletes and singers!) but we wanted to also reward those individuals who may not be the most talented or athletic, but who make the world a better place by being themselves.  Originally inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle, we seek to reward the Sues of the world: The people who don’t make dance club or honor roll but who inspire others with their determination, pluck and zest for life.  The people who make others feel good about themselves.  If there’s a Sue Heck Superstar in your LIFE, then please #ShowUsYourSue!  Nominate your pick for our next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag.