These kindergarteners surprised their school's deaf custodian by signing the entire 'Happy Birthday' song.

A big group of kindergartners doing anything in unison tends to be sweet, but this video takes the cake.

A school community is made up of much more than just students and teachers. From lunch servers to janitors, people who help keep schools running smoothly are important. And they can have a much bigger impact on kids than we often acknowledge.

The students and faculty at Hickerson Elementary School in Tennessee have a special relationship with their custodian, Anthony James. The joyful janitor known as "Mr. James" has been with the Coffee County School District since 1991, and had been working at Hickerson for 15 years. Those who know him describe him as "sweet," "selfless," and "always smiling."


For his 60th birthday, the kindergarteners sung—and signed—the Happy Birthday song for Mr. James.

Mr. James is hearing impaired. So kindergarten classes taught by Mrs. Allyssa Hartsfield and Mrs. Amy Hershman learned how to sign the words to the Happy Birthday song to surprise him. And surprise him they did.

The school shared the video on Facebook, and people are loving it:

Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James' birthday today. He was so surprised! 💛🖤💛🖤

Posted by Hickerson Elementary on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Teaching kids to honor differences and appreciate every member of a community is a beautiful thing.

The video has struck a chord with alumni of Coffee County Schools and people everywhere. As the alumni sharing their memories of Mr. James in the Facebook comments attest, the dedicated custodian is simply receiving a dose of the joy and kindness he has spent decades spreading himself. It's clear that the love between Mr. James and the students in that community is mutual.

But the clip also shows how a simple gesture can mean so much to someone who communicates in a different way. The reaction of Mr. James to the students' surprise couldn't be more delightful, and those kids have now learned first-hand what a difference learning someone's language can make. What a wonderful gift to give someone who has given so much to so many kids for so long.

Happy Birthday to you, Mr. James!

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.