“What ideas do you have for ways to show kindness and generosity to others in the community?” When Krista Hemphill posed this question to her fifth-grade class at Prairie City Elementary in December, hands quickly flew into the air. The students wanted to provide encouragement to a variety of groups around town. They ended up settling on making holiday cards for Prairie City firefighters, police officers, EMS volunteers and city council members. Seeing their enthusiasm for demonstrating kindness, Hemphill knew her students would love to participate in Project Jack.
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 fourth and fifth-grade classes for pay-it-forward projects.
After receiving the news their class was chosen to receive a Project Jack grant, the fifth graders began planning. Wanting to help kids in need, they chose to use the money to buy supplies for New Directions Shelter in Des Moines. A group of students set right to work to use their math skills to calculate which items they could purchase, making sure to use every penny of their $250 grant.
Several students were also able to volunteer at the shelter to lead Easter-themed activities with the children staying in the shelter. Following this experience, the PCE fifth-graders commented they liked Project Jack because “it is fun to help others” and “we have fun making others have fun.”
Seeing the gratitude and joy they could bring others by donating items and time, the students learned there is no age requirement for making an impact on the community. Everyone can make a difference when they follow a key component of the Mustang Way: being kind.