HANNIBAL — The familiar twinkling of the Salvation Army bell on Wednesday at Walmart signaled the efforts of a Hannibal youth who has made it his monthly tradition to perform random acts of kindness in the community.
Sixth-grade student Ethan Romig has been coming up with a different act each month during the past year-and-a-half, and he regularly performs side projects like volunteering at Cuddle Cat Rescue, the Northeast Humane Society and volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer — a favorite holiday activity he's taken part in for the past three years. His mother, Kimberly Douglas, said she is inspired by how her son wants to spread kindness with every act he chooses.
Ethan enjoys the chance to spend the extra time with his mom, and he said his favorite part of volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer is “telling them God bless, so they can believe God and help everybody be kind.”
On Wednesday morning, Ethan surprised teachers at Hannibal Middle School with his November random act of kindness, setting up a large basket he prepared to say thank you.
“I gave cake to them, and I gave treats to them and also I told them thank you for teaching me, so I can grow up and know everything,” Ethan said.
Douglas said that each month, Ethan comes up with the idea for what he wants his main project to be. Soon, he will begin making hundreds of ornaments by hand to give out to residents in community nursing homes — he made 300 last year. She said she tears up when she hears some of the comments her son makes about the importance of being kind and positive — on Tuesday evening, he talked about how God didn't make anyone perfect, but it makes a big difference to deal with a mistake in a positive way.
Douglas said Ethan began his mission after he saw a video on YouTube about performing random acts of kindness each month.
“He does it selflessly, he doesn't do it for any recognition,” Douglas said. “He just does it to make people happy.”
Ethan rang his bell loud for everyone to hear, saying hello and “God bless you” to each person who walked by. He smiled and handed a lollipop to one-yearold LJ Randall as he entered the store with his mother, Nancy Chacon.
Chacon said Ethan's compassion was an inspiration she hoped would continue to spread.
“I think it's great that he's volunteering,” she said. “More kids need to do it.”