PACE — Best-selling author Jason Wright addressed 1,200 students at Sims Middle School about the importance of kindness and giving in their lives simply by collecting change in a jar and giving the jars anonymously to people that are in need.
The presentation is based on Wright’s book “Christmas Jars,” written in 2005. The book sold close to 1 million copies and was made into a movie with the same title this year.
“Kindness is like a bank account,” Wright said. “You have to make deposits and it will accumulate.”
Kindness and giving helps the recipient and the giver, Wright’s father would tell him throughout his life.
Sims students were shown the first 10 minutes of the movie. The story follows a young journalist named Hope who is abandoned at a diner as a baby. The waitress that finds her adopts her. When the adoptive mother dies and Hope returns to her home she finds that thieves have stolen everything. The preview ends as she finds a jar full of change.
Wright said his father started teaching him about kindness by telling him to hold doors open for people. There are lonely and sad people everywhere and opening a door for them might change their day.
That courtesy took Wright from being a selfish teenager to a helpful and considerate young man.
Wright told the students about his father getting into a car with an couple that was arguing until he could mediate a solution. Wright’s father also assisted a neighbor who had been attacked with a knife by her mentally ill daughter.
Wright’s father died when Wright was in high school. He knows these stories not from his father, but from those people he helped.
“If I could see him again I would apologize to him about not ’getting it’ when he was alive,” Wright said.
In 2004, through self-reflection, Wright wondered why he was still thinking more about himself and not other people. He said he did not feel right.
He started filling up jars with change throughout the year. Around Christmas, he would look for people needing money and place the Christmas jars where they could find them.
His first jar went to a man leaving on a mission trip that had to pay his own way. The Christmas jar was placed at his front door anonymously.
“That night, I felt great,” Wright said. ”My kindness was accumulating.”
His wife told him he should follow his dream of becoming a writer.
He wrote the book “Christmas Jars” and encouraged everyone to put their change in a jar and give it to someone in need. Wright estimates that over $10 million has been given away.
Wright has now written 14 books and speaks to groups about kindness, giving, the joys of failure, leadership and the lost art of letter writing. His book “Even a Dog Lies” is being considered for a movie.
He also holds seminars for people interested in writing and offers a tip: write everyday then revise.
Wright said he takes his faults and writes about them.
“I’m trying to get better with each book,” he said.
On Dec. 15, Wright will hold a Christmas devotional open to the public at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Fox Run Road in Pensacola at 7 p.m.