Raegan and Rylyn Richins have touched thousands of residents in their hometown of La Grange, Kentucky, with their "Be Kind" signs.
Rylyn Richins, 10, and her sister Raegan, 13, were heading home one day after a family outing in 2019 when they spotted several yard signs along the country road they were traveling down. The signs had the message "Just Be Kind" printed across them. The signs resonated with the sisters, who have two sisters with Down syndrome. A few hours later, when they arrived home in La Grange, Kentucky, they came up with a plan to create their own yard signs. The signs would bear the simple message "Be Kind," and would soon reach thousands of residents in La Grange—and beyond, PEOPLE Magazine reports.
"We have siblings with special needs," Raegan explained. "And we both felt that people sometimes were not as kind to them as they should be." The sisters quickly got to work, making their signs on a picnic table in their backyard. They used spray paint and wooden block letters to create their multicolored signs. They sell each sign for approximately $10 and all revenue is donated to local charities. At first, they only wanted to sell 65 signs. However, since they first began their endeavor, they have sold 3,000, raising more than $40,000 for the Humane Society, food pantries and other organizations.
Their signs are visible across countless shop windows and front yards in their community and serve as a reminder to folks to take a moment and be kind to one another. Rylyn affirmed, "Kindness just makes the world a better place." "An act of kindness doesn't have to be something big," Raegan added. "It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, which is what I do at school all the time and it always makes me happy." The sisters were particularly awestruck when their signs motivated the local city council and the mayor to make the city of La Grange "Kentucky's kindness capital."
Raegan and Rylyn learned about helping others at a young age when their parents adopted two children with Down syndrome. This was right after their brother Kallen, who also had the disorder, died shortly following his birth. Sadly, their eldest sister Kendall, 16, who also had Down syndrome, died last year after an illness. After her death, spray painting their signs helped ease the pain. Raegan recalled, "[Painting the signs] always lifted our mood, when Kendall was sick."
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As a result of the sister duo's impact on the local community, they were featured on The Today Show, where their message appeared on a massive video billboard over Times Square. Raegan and Rylyn have also been featured on an episode of Home Town Kickstart Presented by PEOPLE, the new Ben and Erin Napier HGTV series honoring people who make a difference in their small-town communities. The episode, Love for La Grange, aired on May 15, on HGTV and streams on Discovery+. For now, they plan to continue selling their signs, along with T-shirts and cards. They are also writing a book together. "I cannot tell you how many of our signs we see each day," Raegan concluded. "But every time we see one, it makes us happy because we know we're spreading kindness." If you would like to purchase your own Be Kind merchandise, you can visit their website here.