A 5-year-old artist from the village of Multnomah spreads joy around him

The Portland Tribune is a media partner of KOIN 6 News.

PORTLAND, OR (PORTLAND GRANDSTAND) — On a sunny February afternoon on the sidewalks of the village of Multnomah, a 5-year-old child drives past shoppers on a scooter.

“Quick delivery !” he shouts, one leg pushing hard on the concrete as he walks towards the first group he sees. The little boy stops, opens a pocket of his rucksack and takes out some pastel-coloured index cards, each with a pencil-drawn heart. There is no text, no signature, just a 2 inch high heart. He distributes cards to the group.

At first they look somewhat puzzled, then accept the sketchy drawings.

” Who is your mother ? a woman asked. “You behaved very well.

The boy’s mother, Greer Kern, looks up with a smile, careful not to interrupt her son’s social interactions too much.

“You’re doing a great job,” the woman told him, laughing.

Random acts of kindness have become routine for Thurman “Oscar the Great” Kern, who at age 5 has no motive but to create tiny messages and artwork to gift strangers.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN – Thurman Kern, 5, hands out a hand-drawn card he made to a passerby in the village of Multnomah in southwest Portland ahead of Valentine’s Day.

“I like to give stuff away. Like, if I’m going out on the town, I always make sure I have my mini lunch box or that,” Kern said, pointing to his plastic backpack. “Sometimes they speak to me, sometimes not.”

He calls his stack of cards “love stuff.”

He uses everything he has around. Sometimes he draws on sticky notes, but he has none left, so today he hands out cards.

“I like giving things away and I like making people happy,” he said. “Since it’s Valentine’s Day and it’s all about love and I’ve been doing that for about 40 years, I like to do a lot of cards every time I go down to the (neighbourhood).”

The 5-year-old hasn’t worked there for so long, but his mother says it has become a hobby.

“They range from stickers to glitter to coloring in,” Kern said of her son’s “lovin’ stuff” cards and notes. This time he focused on mass-producing things in time for Valentine’s Day, hence the lack of embellishment.

He had hidden a card for a friend, so naturally when Thurman spotted the postman delivering the mail to the stores, he stopped him, got hold of the correct plug and asked for it to be delivered to “the house of Sebastian”.

The postman admitted he wasn’t sure Sebastian, whose surname and address could not be found on the map, lived on his route, but complied anyway.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN – Thurman “Oscar the Great” Kern and his mother, Greer Kern. The 5-year-old boy insists that his mother take him to the neighborhood so he can distribute cards and drawings to strangers. He recently created heart-themed cards to hand out to shoppers in Multnomah Village for Valentine’s Day.

The boy’s harmless routine is a reminder of the world through the eyes of a child. No unspoken social contracts. No hesitation or fear of offending. No concern for danger, just the unbridled love of sharing a gift and a brief human connection.

“Most people are curious and stop, because he’s a kid,” Kern said. She never lets her son go out alone and is always nearby when he deals his cards. “I would say a small percentage are questioning what they’re trying to sell or something like that.”

While some parents might be inclined to discourage their children from approaching strangers and handing them unsolicited items, Kern quickly saw the value of allowing his son unprovoked social interactions. He explores his creative side and his altruistic instincts. He also gained some simple but invaluable experiences that were largely lost during the pandemic: how to approach people he’s never met before while being courteous and polite.

“I was trying to dig deeper into wondering if it was more of a need because of COVID and the need to socialize. He’s definitely an extrovert,” Kern said of his son. “He told me and other people he arrested that he wanted to spread his art and he wanted to create, just because it made him feel good.”

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