Perform seven random acts of kindness in seven days. This was the challenge that Krista Hemphill, fifth grade teacher at Prairie City Elementary, gave to her class in December. The students showed great enthusiasm about secretly helping others and commented about wanting to carry out even larger acts of kindness that would help change the world. When Hemphill received an email about Project Jack a couple weeks later, she knew this was the perfect opportunity for her class.
Project Jack started in the Quad Cities area in memory of Jack Lindaman, a boy who was known for making others happy but passed away from spinal muscular atrophy in 2010. To continue spreading his spirit of kindness, the REALTOR Foundation of Iowa provides $250 grants to classes for pay-it-forward projects.
Wanting to help and encourage kids facing difficult circumstances, Hemphill’s fifth grade class submitted their Project Jack idea to donate items to Mercy Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. A month later, shouts of joy echoed throughout the school as the class found out their project was selected to receive funding.
The class used the grant money to purchase superhero-themed donation items including teddy bears, stress balls, coloring posters, comic books, and more. The students also decorated cards for the hospital patients. A group of class representatives dropped off the cards and donation items at Mercy Children’s Hospital. Reflecting on their experience, the fifth graders commented that they liked Project Jack because it “brings kids joy” and “makes kids feel like there is someone supporting them.”
Having this type of empathetic attitude and helping others is important at PCE because a key component of the Mustang Way is being kind. Project Jack provided a powerful opportunity for the fifth graders to apply the Mustang Way outside of school and see the positive impact they can make.