16 Kids Who Restored Our Faith In Humanity In 2016

These kids showed there's hope for the future.

In a year marked by rising hate crimes, political turmoil and the deaths of beloved icons, it’s easy to lose hope for the future.

But in spite of everything, there are many vestiges of goodness in humanity. This is especially clear when it comes to children.

As 2016 nears its end, we looked back at some of the most inspiring acts of kindness, courage and creativity from kids this year. Keep scrolling to read about 16 big and small ways kids made a difference in the world.

The boy who dedicated his 5th birthday to helping animals in need
Stephanie Shaw
Animal-lover Dalton Shaw asked guests who attended his birthday party to bring supplies for rescue dogs and cats at local shelters in lieu of gifts.
The 6-year-old whose act of kindness toward a homeless man warmed hearts
Kenyatta Lewis
Kenyatta Lewis posted on Facebook that her daughter Janiyah gave her hope for the world after she approached a homeless man outside a store and gave him money to buy a meal. The Facebook post went viral, and Janiyah went on to raise over $2,000 for the man.
The girl with brain cancer who used her Make-A-Wish to clean up her city's parks
41 Action News - KSHB-TV/Facebook
After Make-A-Wish offered to grant a wish of her choice, 8-year-old Amelia Meyer asked the organization to help her clean up parks in her local Kansas City community.
The 11-year-old who performed for an elderly veteran who showed up to a canceled Memorial Day parade
Mary DeGregorio
After Nicholas DeGregorio heard that an elderly veteran was on his way to a canceled Memorial Day parade in his town, he offered to play “You’re A Grand Old Flag” for the man on his trumpet.
The little girl who showed you don't have to choose between princesses and badass action heroines
Steven Lamb
Steven Lamb’s daughter Stormie loves Elsa from “Frozen" and Rey from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens," so she showed off her fandom for both women with a creative costume.
The girl who used Google Translate to invite a new classmate to sit with her at lunch
Kimber Kinard
When Amanda Moore noticed her new classmate, Rafael Anaya, eating lunch alone, she approached him. Because she noticed he didn’t speak much English, she decided to communicate with a note instead. Amanda used Google Translate to write a letter in Spanish to Rafael.
The 10-year-old boy who grew out his hair to make wigs for kids with cancer
Amber Ray and Angie Pulos
Thomas Moore, a fifth-grader from Bowie, Maryland, didn’t cut his hair for two years so that he could donate it to kids with cancer. He grew enough hair to make three wigs.
The boy who used his allowance to buy sandwiches for the police
Winslow Township Police Department
William Evertz Jr., 5, used his allowance money, which he earned doing chores, to buy lunch for police officers in his New Jersey community.
The 5-year-old who had the best response to a problematic "dress like an Indian" school assignment
Tremeka Greeenhouse
When Tremeka Greenhouse's 5-year-old daughter Nyemah received a school assignment to “dress like an Indian,” they came up with a perfect response to the problematic assignment. She dressed as protester standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The toddler with the facial birthmark who already knows it's OK to be different
Kelly Wilson Bosley
Two-year-old Lydia had a lovely response after her preschool classmates stared and whispered about her port-wine stain birthmark. She maintained her positivity and handed her teacher a book about having a birthmark to read to the class.
The 11-year-old who mowed lawns to raise money to buy a gravestone for the father he never met
Keegan Kistenmacher
Brandon Bakke, who is adopted, spent his summer mowing lawns to buy a gravestone for his biological father Terrence -- even though the two never met. Terrence was initially buried in an unmarked grave because the family could not afford a monument.
The 9-year-old girl who made an inspiring speech about autism
Sarah and Greg Charles
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, fourth-grader Keira Meikus delivered a powerful speech about having autism to the entire student body during the morning announcements. “A person who has autism has a brain that works differently [from] a typical brain. Neither is better — they are just different,” she said.
The 8-year-old who left a cooler full of cold drinks for the mailman on a scorching summer day
Terra McDaniel/Facebook
On a particularly hot day, 8-year-old Carmine McDaniel left out a cooler full of water and Gatorade for his mailman friend, Henry Bailey.
The 5-year-old who invited local police officers to his family's Thanksgiving dinner
Facebook Walton County Sheriffs Office
A 5-year-old boy named Billy Nolin called 911 to invite Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies to join him and his family for their Thanksgiving dinner. Two officers stopped by his home to give him his own sheriff's badge.
The 4-year-old who formed a sweet friendship with an elderly man at the grocery store
Tara Wood
Tara Wood wrote a viral Facebook post about her daughter, Norah, who became friends with a kind octogenarian at her local Publix. She proceeded to visit him several times and help him celebrate his 82nd birthday.
The little girl who wore a hot dog costume during "princess week" at her dance school
Body Image Moments 2016