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Why this 12-year-old spends a day every week at the cemetery

Cerith Gardiner - published on 02/22/21

Australian Tj Kleeman's fear of the dead sent her down a road of caring for those who've passed away.

When Tj Kleeman and her family moved next to a cemetery 8 years ago, the then-4-year-old was understandably a little scared. So to help the youngster get over these fears, her mom took her to visit the cemetery to get to know their new, rather peaceful, neighbors.

Once her daughter felt more at ease with the cemetery, Tj’s mom suggested that it might be a nice idea to spruce up the graves. From that day on, Tj has been visiting the graveyard with bucket in hand to tend to her neighbors’ plots, as reported by the BBC.

With 8 years of dedication in caring for the graves of people she’s never met, the now-12-year-old has been awarded the Australian Day award for caring for her community.  Tj was a little surprised by this recognition stating: “What? Like me just doing something for people and with, like, your heart.”

However, seeing her mom’s tears of joy, and feeling such satisfaction in helping others, makes her efforts even more worthwhile. Tj hopes that this award might inspire others to help out in their community. As she points out, she’s not even a teenager yet but she can see the pleasure in offering up an hour a week to serve others.

In fact, the youngster continues to scrub away at the graves once or twice a week in what seems a relentless task, despite just having hand surgery. As she states, it takes one year to clean all the graves in the cemetery, so the minute she’s finished cleaning the last one, she has the daunting task of going back to square one, year after year.

What is truly heart-warming is knowing that Tj plans to continue caring for her silent neighbors in the future. She is spurred on by the gratitude of those visiting their loved ones; knowing their graves are being cared for makes it all worthwhile.


If you’d like to meet other young people whose actions, devotion and generosity are a huge source of inspiration, click on the slideshow below:

Acts of KindnessInspiring stories
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