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When it comes to having a big heart, Ayla Gleason has the biggest. The fifth grader at James M. Brown Elementary School in Walhalla is known for spreading kindness everywhere she goes. 

Over the past few years, Ayla has worked hard to befriend those who needed friends, she offered to share her mom with a girl who did not have one, and she bought ice cream for her entire class just to show that she loves them. 

Ayla’s mother, Tara Weekes, said her daughter has a really caring heart and would do anything for anyone in need. She said Ayla is very emotionally in tune with those around her. 

In the spring of 2019, Ayla noticed a classmate in tears about a Mother’s Day event at school. As it turned out, the girl’s own mother was gone, so Ayla offered to share her mother. 

“I always wanted a sister, so I invited her to hang out and share my mom,” Ayla said. 

That girl has been a good friend and frequent visitor to their home ever since. 

Ayla also made an attempt at keeping the peace in her classroom this fall when everybody returned for the new school year. When some classmates were being mean, Ayla offered to buy the class ice cream with her own money. With approval from the teacher, she brought in several specialty flavors and helped scoop them up for everyone.

“Ayla is a kind and generous student, and she works hard to make a difference in her classroom,” Erin Garland, her school’s Vice Principal, said.

Garland said Ayla is an asset to the school and she has tremendous leadership skills among her peers. 

According to her mother, Ayla draws pictures and writes encouraging notes to teachers and school staff, in addition to performing random acts of kindness. She also stands up for kids being bullied by other students. 

“A new girl was being picked on, so we told them to leave her alone and invited her to play with us,” Ayla said.

Every act of kindness makes a difference, Ayla said.

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