Kindness club makes mark on community

Josh Criswell/The ItemScott Johnson Elementary School counselor Marsha Stringer and fourth-grader Martha Palmerin stand alongside some of the items that were collected during the Kindness Club's recent Book and Blanket Drive.

A group of Scott Johnson Elementary School students have used the holiday season as an opportunity to make an impact on the local community.

The school’s Kindness Club recently held its first-ever Book and Blanket Drive, collecting books and blankets with the intention of delivering them to community members in need. Some members of the community even joined in to help the cause, dropping off donations of their own.

According to principal Shannon Williams and counselor Marsha Stringer, the plan is to disperse the goods collected among the SAAFE House, the Good Shepherd Mission, Child Protective Services and the school’s social service worker.

“It teaches the students how to give back to their community,” Williams said. “There's so many opportunities for them to serve, and we have so many people in the community that do things for us, and for the kids to show that kindness and give back, it's just part of being a good person and a good citizen. I think it helps the community and grooms future leaders.”

The Kindness Club consists of approximately 30 third and fourth graders that are “nominated by peers as students that show kindness all the time." The group spreads kindness daily through various acts, which include welcoming new students, surprising teachers with notes of appreciation and recognizing staff members.

They also undertake one service project — such as the Book and Blanket Drive — each semester. Stringer, who started the club three years ago, has placed an emphasis on allowing students to generate ideas for potential projects.

“They like getting to choose what we do,” Stringer said. “That helps them to help other students participate because they have more buy-in to it. They love to take stuff to the teachers and staff, and the teachers and staff are so appreciative. That makes them feel good.”

The Kindness Club is not done spreading generosity this year, either. They will be leading the Kindness Elf Challenge throughout the remainder of the week, with a different kindness-themed challenge planned for each day.

“Each day there will be a different challenge,” Stringer said. “The last one is something to do at home. Then in the spring, we'll do another kindness-challenge sort of thing.”