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upworthy
Education

Teachers share their sweetest gifts from students and it's a moving lesson in generosity

The most thoughtful gifts often cost nothing at all.

a purple crayon in a white gift box

A simple purple crayon can mean more than any expensive gift.

Generosity comes in many forms, but the most beautiful gifts come straight from the heart, no matter how much they cost. And when a heartfelt gift comes from a child? That's a pure form of giving that's hard to match.

A former teacher shared a story of the most memorable gift a student had ever given her, and it prompted a flood of teachers sharing similar stories that show the meaning of true generosity.

Heather Babin Benoit shared a photo of a small white gift box with a purple crayon inside it with the following story:


"Nine years ago, a student of mine saw other kids giving me presents and he had nothing to give. He took a box from a present he was given and his purple crayon from his pouch and wrapped it. He walked up to me and said, 'I hope you love it, it is your favorite color.' I still get tears in my eyes when I open this box.

Purple is my favorite color. He knew that. He paid attention to what I said. He didn’t have much to give in his eyes but he gave me so much more than a purple crayon. He gave me love. He gave me his heart. He gave me a kind gesture.

Nine years ago, it was my last Christmas as a classroom teacher. I received many gifts in this lifetime, but this present will always be a gentle reminder that it is always the thought that counts."

The comments on Upworthy's share of the story on Instagram were filled with teachers sharing similarly meaningful gifts their students had given them over the years. (Fair warning: If the purple crayon didn't already have you grabbing a tissue, you might want to grab one now.)

"A student once got me a dryer sheet. He had a troubled home life and didn’t have a lot of money, but he brought me a dryer sheet for Christmas because 'It’s my favorite smell, and I wanted you to have one to smell too!' It’s been 8 years, and I still have that dryer sheet. ❤️" – @roxanneamarques

"I had little boy in my Kindergarten classroom who brought me a mostly used bottle of old perfume. He said I’m sorry it’s all I had. I assured him I loved it and he said. “It was my Mom’s favorite perfume and you remind me of her.” His Mom had died the year before. The most selfless and heartfelt gift I have ever received." – @carol_j_becker

"This reminds of a student I had when I taught 1st grade, his family didn’t have money for store bought valentines so he hand wrote valentines on loose leaf paper with pencil to every student in the class. Kids understand the true meaning of giving." – @heatherbee721

"Years ago a student gave me a tiny piece of paper with just a curved line on it. It was our last day working together and he told me it was a smile. I still have that little smile in my office. 🥰" – @orangegrad

"Years ago when I taught pre-k, a child gave me a packet of ketchup for Christmas so he’d have something to give me. His mom worked at a burger place and he spent his afternoons and evenings there sitting in a booth because she had no child care. 😢❤️" – @awcarlsson

"One year one of my first graders gave me 2 extra long Slim Jim beef sticks that I believe were intended for her own snack. Keep in mind I am a vegetarian. 2 hours into our day she came up to me and said Ms. Hagan, I’m really hungry and think I need to eat one of those Slim Jims I said absolutely. Then an hour later she came back and whispered, I’m starving and I need to eat that other Slim Jim. Best present ever and best story. 😂😍" – @lu.hagan

"My daughter was teaching at a school where many students didn’t have money for gifts or great home situations. A little girl who received free breakfast took all the marshmallows from her cereal box and put them in the bag the plastic silverware came in to give my daughter her teacher as her Christmas gift. I could still cry thinking about how much her little heart wanted to just give a gift to her teacher." – @stacykib

Other commenters shared how much the story meant to them.

"I really hope that kid sees this someday and then he'll know how many people smiled because of his beautiful purple crayon," wrote one person.

"You cannot compete with the pure innocence of a child, that’s why their energy must be protected," shared another.

"I'm not sure which is more beautiful. That the student gave the sentimental gesture, or that the teacher recognized the sentiment in the gesture. Both are making me cry," shared another.

Indeed, giving a gift from the heart is one thing; recognizing the value of such a gift is another. May we all be thoughtful givers and receivers, especially with the children in our lives.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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