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12-Year-Old Boy Uses His Allowance to Buy New Sneakers for Friend Being Bullied for Old Shoes: ‘You Don’t Have to Pay Me Back’

A New York boy chose to demonstrate the true meaning of friendship by sacrificing his allowance to help a classmate.

Buffalo seventh grader Romello “Mello” Early told reporters he could not stand seeing his friend Melvin Anderson get picked on for his tattered sneakers, so he asked his mother if he could do something to help.

” ‘Can I use my allowance, or you can take something away that I would get for Christmas?’ ” Mello asked his mother.

Romello “Mello” Early, right, bought his classmate, Melvin Anderson, a pair of Nike sneakers after he was teased at school. (Photo: Facebook/Bryant Brown Jr.)

Anita James told The Washington Post Mello called her on FaceTime in tears on Oct. 24. He told his mother that a fellow seventh-grader was constantly being bullied for his old shoes.

“I was floored because most kids are not willing to give up something to another child; most kids are about themselves,” James said. “Just to see at that age he was acting as an adult, it touched me in a way that I almost can’t even describe.”

Mello considers Melvin his best friend, but he also knows what it’s like to be bullied because kids at his old school teased him because of his height.

“That made me think about how nobody else should have to go through how I felt,” said Mello, who is 4 feet, 6 inches tall.

The 12-year-old saved up $135 from his allowance, and James took him to the shoe store that evening, where he bought black-and-white Nike Dunks for his friend. He gave them to Melvin in private at Buffalo Creek Academy the next day.

“I’m really appreciative of what he did for me,” Melvin said.

Bryant Brown Jr., dean of culture at the boys’ school, said Melvin brought the box into his office and told him what Mello did for him. Brown was so touched by the student’s gesture. He took to social media to share the positive news.

“This is what I live for…Be that helping hand,” Brown wrote on Facebook.

The dean works to instill the school’s values of “leadership, integrity, focus, and excellence” every day, he told WGRZ. But Brown also said he could relate to the story because his older brother would buy him shoes as a child when his parents could not afford them. In return, Brown gifts his brother a pair of sneakers every year as an adult for his birthday.

“When Romello did this with his allowance money, it touched my heart and I almost came to tears,” Brown said.

Melvin said he is doing chores at home “so I can earn some money to try and pay him back for what he did for me,” but Mello said he’s not looking for anything in return.

” ‘You don’t have to pay me back,’ ” he told his friend. ” ‘That’s just a gift from me to you.’ ”  

Melvin’s father Wesley Anderson said his son did not tell him he was being bullied at school or that he wanted new sneakers. Melvin told his father the shoes were hand-me-downs from a friend, but Anderson learned the full story after seeing Brown’s post.

Anderson said he was disheartened learning his son was being teased about the shoes and did not want anyone to think “Melvin was a charity case,” but Mello’s kindness also warmed his heart.

“That was very touching,” Anderson said. “I hope this is contagious for other children. Maybe they’ll realize that being kinder to another person goes a long way.” He also spoke to his son about speaking up when he has issues.

The students’ parents and Brown want to use their story help toward launching an anti-bullying campaign in the coming weeks.

“Bullying happens every single day,” Brown said. “We’re going to do everything we can to prevent it and make sure Mello’s helping hand always lives on.”

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