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Bradley Jones: Kindess to strangers

CL boy, 17, completed random acts each day

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Bradley Jones, 17, of Crystal Lake hands out gift cards to customers at Conscious Cup in Crystal Lake in December. Jones did a random act of kindness each day in December. His actions included filling up a person’s gas tank, buying flowers for a stranger, baking cookies for a classmate, and handing out gift cards to strangers.

Oscar Wilde once said that “the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

Wilde undoubtedly would be proud of Bradley Jones, who set off in December to complete one act of kindness for each day in the month.

“Initially, I think most people were pretty shocked; it’s not every day you have a complete stranger just walking up to you offering you some sort of gift,” Jones said.

Sometimes his actions were small, such as when he wrote compliments on a piece of paper and attached them to windshields in a busy parking lot. And others were bigger, such as the time he bought a cart of groceries for a couple on their way to a funeral, or when he filled the gas tank of a grateful stranger.

“The guy was really stunned and shocked, and he started tearing up a little bit,” Jones said. “It was a picture-perfect reaction in my mind. I couldn’t get any better from there.”

The senior at Crystal Lake Central High School spent his own money on his kind crusade, spending about $500 to $600 throughout the month. It was money he earned working part time at a local restaurant.

Jones was featured in a Northwest Herald article as his month of benevolence was wrapping up. By that time, his campaign already had gone viral.

Jones started getting messages from students at other schools, parents, teachers. And the Facebook friend requests came pouring in. By the time it was over, he had 200 more friends on the social networking site.

The article appeared shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

“There were very heartfelt responses from people online,” said Randy Jones, Brad’s father. “People all over, they said this is really what we needed right now.”

But Jones, at 17 years old the youngest of this year’s Everyday Hero nominees, says he’s anything but – although he still hopes he can inspire others to follow suit.

“I’m no Superman,” he said. “I’m nothing terribly special. Anyone in the community can go out and do what I was doing by any means ... it could be small things here or there that make a difference in people’s day.”

Randy Jones said Bradley, who is normally a shy and quiet high honor student, is dedicated, focused and hardworking.

“He can do whatever he sets his mind to,” Randy Jones said.

So what does Bradley plan for his next adventure? Before he heads off to college at Illinois State University in the fall, he wants to set a Guinness world record.

“I just thought it’d be cool to have that piece of paper that says I’m the best at something,” he said.

The video game lover is still uncertain which record he’ll break, but Jones is thinking something like the longest time playing video games could be in his reach.

“I don’t know how into that one my mom would be,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know how supportive she’d be of that, probably not very.”

But chances are, this is not the last time the community will hear about Jones’ accomplishments.

The Jones lowdown

Who is he? 17-year-old senior at Crystal Lake Central High School who completed a random act of kindness each day in December.

Family: Son of Randy and Mary Ellen Jones; brother, Andrew Jones, 15.

Hobbies: Playing Xbox and the drums.

Favorite band: Mumford & Sons

Future plans: Attending Illinois State University in the fall and will study biochemistry or biology.

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