For anyone who has watched the movie, “Evan Almighty”, one knows the ending and smiles. ‘God’ asks Evan, who ends up looking like ‘Noah in the Bible’, to build him an ark. At the end, Evan questioned him about it and God spelled out A-R-K in the sand, explaining that it is important for everyone to always be ready to do – A Random act of Kindness.
When Craig County Public Schools received a phone call that a local church was teaming with a shoe company to bring a brand new pair of shoes to every student in all three schools, ideas started spinning.
“Melissa Whiting, Jeanette Warwick and myself started to work on an assembly for this distribution,” Gerri VanDyke shared. “We wanted this to be a learning opportunity for the students for them to understand that this was an act of kindness.” VanDyke is the Coordinator of Student Services at CCPS.
VanDyke said she had ‘all hands on deck’ to measure over 600 pairs of feet. Most were done by the coaches in the students PE classes. “Melanie Brizendine, a member at Grace Assembly of God in Catawba, was the coordinator for the company,” VanDyke said. The shoes would be sent to the church for distribution to the school before the end of the year.
The school also notified each student’s parents, by sending a letter home to inform them of ‘this awesome opportunity”.
“We not only wanted to recognize this as an act of kindness, we wanted the students to be empowered to pay it forward and continue with acts of kindness that they could do themselves,” VanDyke shared.
Grace Assembly became a conduit, connecting the giver with the receiver. The staff at McCleary, Middle and High Schools had prepared an informative and fun assembly, sharing the importance of, ‘An Act of Kindness’.
Videos were shown in all three assemblies for the students. They showed how everyone can give an ‘Act of Kindness’ just about anywhere. Examples were a boy helping a lady carry her groceries, and a girl who seen a business many hurrying down the street who dropped his wallet and she ran to return it to him, along with many others.
One video emphasized, “When we share kindness, we color the world!” and another said, “Kindness keeps the world afloat.”
Melissa Whiting, Middle School teacher, read an essay from one of the students titled, “I Chose to Ride the Bus”. It told of a girl whose mom worked hard and how she didn’t wake her tired mom up one day and instead, and let her sleep in as she took care of her brother and got them on the bus. Later, her mom brought her a lunch from her favorite restaurant, saying that she really appreciated her letting her sleep in and wanted to thank her. The girl ended up sharing her lunch with a stranger who became her best friend.
Jeanette Warwick, Craig County Superintendent, shared the story from the well know book, Charlotte’s Web. “Charlotte would spin messages about Wilbur the Pig, (who was being ‘fattened’ for the dinner table), into her spider webs so that everybody’s attention was then on Wilbur.”
Wilbur becomes the prize winning pig at the County Fair and the most famous pig ever, therefore avoiding the dinner table because of his new friend, Charlotte.
“Her final message was for him to remain humble,” Warwick shared with the students. Wilbur then asked Charlotte, “But, why did you do all this for Me? I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you!” he said. Charlotte responded, “You have been my friend and that in itself is a tremendous thing.”
” Warwick shared, “I don’t think we can talk about kindness and the giving and receiving of it, without talking about being humble and being very appreciative of the gifts that you receive.”
Warwick asked each assembly to sing a song with her titled, Humble and Kind (the school version) by Tim McGraw. Some of the words sung were; ‘Go to school ’cause your momma says to, visit Grandma every chance that you get, It won’t be a waste of time…always stay humble and kind.’
Another verse paralleled that videos the students watched, ‘Hold the door, say please and thank you, don’t steal, don’t cheat and don’t lie, I know you got mountains to climb but…always stay humble and kind.’
“The students were so excited and very receptive and thankful during our very first Acts of Kindness Assembly,” VanDyke shared. “The kindness you give and the problems you help solve for others will determine many relationships and doors that will be opened to you.” Loraine Taylor shared.
Loraine Taylor, Senior Pastor of Grace Assembly of God, shared her heart feelings with the students, telling them how very special each and every one of them were to God. “You affect the lives of others and bring the spark of light, life and happiness to the eyes of your parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends and family, teachers and classmates and in whoever’s presence you may be.”
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this and also very thankful for everyone who worked so hard to help us to pull off our very first Acts of Kindness Assembly,” VanDyke shared. “I felt like it was a great success and our students can walk away from this experience and apply it later on with many aspects of their lives.”
VanDyke emphasized to the students that, “When someone does something nice for you, pay it forward!” The students lined up as Grace Assembly called out each ones name to get a free pair of new shoes, and some free gifts as well. The students seemed so grateful and ‘thank you’s’ were abundant. Many students took off the shoes they had on and immediately put on their new ones. “This is too cool!” many students chimes. Several gave classic poses as pictures were taken.
Grace Assembly also surprised the students with $25 and $50 gift certificates. When the names were being pulled out, every teacher was amazed at how quiet the auditorium became. After the name was called, yells of excitement filled the air for their classmates.
Taylor emphasized the student’s strengths. “Attributes, attitudes and deeds of servant hood, truthfulness, kindness and creative ways of helping others is what the person of greatness is made of,” she shared. “Individually, you are greater than all the wealth of the world piled into one place and your value cannot be summed up in a sentence or magnitude of thoughts.”