Kindness and Comics: How One Kind Act Gave Thousands a Grandpa

Written by: M.T. Bennett

The beauty of doing one kind act is that the value of the act varies between different people. Something small you do may make a big difference in someone else’s life. I want to tell a story of a series of kind acts and how they have come together to impact thousands of individuals.

It starts with Craig Hansen, who we will call Grandpa. Every Sunday evening Grandpa’s family would visit for dessert, and he would gather his grandkids around and read them the Sunday paper comics. This was a frequent family tradition but, in 2020, like for many of us, COVID changed things. His grandkids couldn’t visit in person anymore, so someone told Grandpa to keep reading the comics and post it onto YouTube.

On June 27, 2020, surrounded by a banjo, a ukelele, a picture of his family, Grandpa posted his first video where he reads a “Pickles” comic. Grandpa kept creating video until September 23, 2021, when he posted his 401st episode.  “I was having fun, but I don’t think my own grandkids were even still watching my videos,” Grandpa chuckles as he recounts the story, “So I decided to stop making YouTube videos but leave my channel still up and I went to Tik Tok instead. After a while I stopped doing that and Grandma took over my Tik Tok.”

Almost two years later, in April 2023, an Instagram influencer named Cole Caetano searched “grandpa” on YouTube. He got 900+ results. As he looked through them, he wanted to find a small channel, with a lot of content. Cole said that Grandpa’s channel just jumped out at him, so he put together a series of clips with Grandpa reading, dancing with Grandma, playing banjo and posted it to his 109,000 Instagram followers saying, “We need to make this guy famous”.

Cole’s followers showed up in a big way. In two days, Grandpa’s YouTube subscribers jumped from 222 to 180,000. This was unknown to Grandpa who was continuing to live his life without YouTube until his wife got a message on TikTok. The message told her to check out Grandpa’s channel and asked if Grandpa was still alive. People were flocking to the channel in droves to experience Grandpa’s kindness and humor. It spread on the internet and also gained popularity through a post on Reddit which drove more people to find Grandpa.

Most people were finding the final 401st episode since it was the last one created. In most episodes Grandpa will read a comic and then give some life advice. In the 401st episode, after reading a Dennis the Menace comic, Grandpa points his finger to the camera and with a warm smile says, “You deserve the best! You are worthy. You are approved. People need you. You are needed. You are here at this time for a reason. I love you guys.”

Recounting the growth Grandpa says, “300,000 people found episode 401 and heard those words. Hundreds of thousands of people hearing that they are approved, and they are important. That means so much to me.” Eventually Grandpa and Grandma found themselves with nearly 500,000 new grandchildren in the form of YouTube subscribers.

So, they started making videos again. There is a warmth and genuineness in these videos; a kind grandpa doing his best to share positivity.

“My goal is to be educational, entertaining, and encouraging,” says Grandpa, and his videos certainly are. Grandpa showcases his singing and the musical talents of his family. He visits interesting locations, like a stained-glass exhibit depicting the history of the world. He shows us how to cook 7-Up Chicken. He pulls out puppets and tells jokes in a falsetto voice. Sitting in his rocking chair and joyfully laughing at the puns from the daily funnies he shares his kindness and goodness. He has become for many a surrogate grandfather, and he has touched thousands of lives.

Comments in his videos compare him to Mr. Rogers. They thank him for his words and talk about how they never had a grandpa or how much he reminds them of their own grandpa. One comment said, “I’ve been thinking about suicide, and I watched your video today and I decided that life is worth living. Thanks, Grandpa, for being there.”

Reflecting on this Grandpa says, “It only takes one of those to make it worthwhile.” 

The tagline on our homepage says, “Small acts, when done by many, create big change” and we can see that in this story. From the kind act of Grandpa reading to his grandkids, to taking the effort to post videos on YouTube, to Cole’s kindness in sharing, to the kindness of Cole’s followers, to the kind videos Grandpa now posts, we see the impact in the journey thousands of people share with their surrogate grandpa.

Strickland Gillian wrote a poem called “The Reading Mother” and I would like to share the last section, with just a small edit.

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be–

I had a mother Grandpa who read to me.

In one of his first videos Grandpa made the invitation, “If any of you need a grandpa, or want an extra grandpa, join me.”

You can enjoy the richness of being one of the grandkids by following Grandpa Hansen on YouTube , Instagram, or Tik Tok. You can make a difference in someone else’s life too. It may seem small to you, but you can have a big impact if you just do one kind act a day.