Bullying is unfortunately not uncommon for children in school. But a seventh grader in Phoenix decided to take action when she saw it happening at her own school — and now it’s blossomed into a friendship.
Atkinson Middle School student Haley Olsen got bullied almost daily for wearing hand-me-downs and not having the clothes and other items considered status symbols.
It may not have been a big issue, but the bullying got so bad that Haley couldn’t bear it anymore.
“I always came home crying and stuff to my parents, saying how I didn’t want to go to school anymore,” she said. “I wanted to be homeschooled.”
That was when another student, Mariah Andrew, decided she had enough.
Tired of listening to classmates tease and put Haley down, she took action and asked her what sizes she wore.
“I asked her one day for her sizes,” said Mariah. “She wrote them down on a piece of paper and brought it to me the next day.”
Then Mariah provided Haley with everything she needed, including clothes, shoes, and a backpack. All of which were considered “cool” and more fashionable clothing than what Haley usually wore.
For Haley, it was a huge moment.
“I was jumping all over the place screaming how happy I was,” she said.
But the clothes and shoes weren’t the only things that Mariah provided. Her kind gesture was also the start of a new friendship, a bond that Haley had sorely needed during her tumultuous first weeks at Atkinson.
Now, the girls are fast friends, even giving interviews while tightly holding hands.
And Mariah’s kind gesture is a lesson in how far a single action can reach. After news of her kindness spread on social media, others immediately began to volunteer. They brought clothes, shoes, school supplies, and more for Haley and her siblings. Sonoran Smile Orthodontics even offered to provide free orthodontic and dental care.
But Mariah says the experience didn’t just touch Haley.
She herself was deeply moved by her new friend’s happiness.
“I was trying so hard not to cry,” she said. “It made me feel happy at first, and the day that I gave it to her.”
Haley is one of seven siblings, so hand-me-downs are the norm in their family. Every parent knows that clothes and school supplies can get expensive, so it makes sense for the children in big families to share what they have.
What started as a simple gesture has blossomed into a viral feel-good news story.
And even better, it has blossomed into a friendship.
About 60 percent of students Haley’s age say they face bullying at school, with as many as 160,000 students nationwide playing hooky each day to escape their tormenters.
It’s a serious problem and one that schools are struggling to address. Anti-bullying organizations like Stop Bullying advocate for the passage of anti-bullying laws and other policies that protect children in schools. They say that lawmakers need to take the issue very seriously in order to protect children like Haley.
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Source: Fox 10 Phoenix