HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A simple thank-you has inspired a 10-year-old Hannibal boy to spread kindness throughout the community.
Ethan Romig, a rising fourth-grader at Veterans Elementary School, has been doing monthly random acts of kindness since the start of the year. His mission to spread kindness first started when he was 7 or 8 years old.
"I opened up the door for my mom to let someone in, and the person walked through and said, ‘Thank you,' and that's why I try to do nice things for others," Ethan said. "I then wanted to start helping more people."
It wasn't until he was a little older that he started surprising others in the community with his random acts of kindness. He recently watched a YouTube video of a boy giving roses to nursing home residents and told his mom, Kim Douglas, that he could do that, too. When the family's church, the Crossing, needed toys for its children's ministry, Ethan took action.
He donated some of his toys and withdrew some money from his allowance to buy the ministry more toys.
Ethan then started putting a package of cookies wrapped in a note that says, "Please enjoy this random act of kindness," under the windshield wipers of strangers' vehicles. He also attached quarters to a similar sheet of paper and taped them to the arcade games and machines that dispense stickers, bouncy balls and other small items.
Another surprise some people have gotten is receiving a bag of microwavable popcorn taped to Redbox machines so that people can enjoy a snack with their rented movie.
"He's always been a kindhearted kid," Douglas said. "He's the one who came to me about doing all of this. I'm so proud of him for being so giving and caring toward others."
In May, Ethan donated snacks, drinks and balloons that say "You're #1" to the Hannibal Fire Department personnel. In June, the Hannibal Police Department received a similar gift basket. Both city departments gave him a tour of the facilities and let him sit in some of the vehicles.
The 10-year-old already has an idea of who he'll surprise next.
Ethan, who wants to be a construction worker when he grows up, said he wants to continue his random acts of kindness as an adult.
"He really hopes to inspire others to be kind," Douglas said. "We try to do this once a month, but I know if we could, he'd do this more often."