At the time I wrote the post, I had no idea that elementary students in New Mexico would be my shining example.
Then, I was given a story about an amazing act of kindness born of a teachers workshop at Douglas MacArthur Elementary school, in Albuquerque. It seems that a woman named Marjori Krebs has been engaging teachers in her workshops to better understand children and youth in foster care, in order to identify and meet their needs.
Several teachers have lended a hand, over the past few years, by making items such as tie blankets for foster kids. This year, Clare Cuellar took it to a whole new level. She was heartbroken when she understood the depth of the many challenges faced by youth who have aged out of the system.
- almost 50% report being homeless or couch-surfing
- some 50% struggle with alcohol and/or drug abuse
- 52% report being unemployed
- 42% report having no positive support in their lives
- at least 50% have been unable to attain a high school diploma, or GED.
And, a recent study through the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative revealed that 25% of youth who have aged out of the foster system experience post-traumatic stress disorder (a rate that is higher than veterans of the Gulf War and the Iraqi War).
Clare organized a service project to collect pocket change. Her goal was to raise a total of $500.00 to be used to stock the Heart Gallery New Mexico Foundation Hope Chest with new bedding to go with beds that the company Mattress Firm provides for foster youth in the state.
This project was most certainly a kind one and also an educational opportunity. Young students at MacArthur would learn to count money and boost their financial literacy. Now, could such a small, title-one school (meaning that most of its families live near or below the poverty level) raise the $500.00 that had been set as a goal?
You bet they did! They met their goal in week one. The children skipped buying snacks, for example, and also found other ways to raise the money for foster youth. They took from their personal piggy banks, searched under chair cushions at home and, as one little boy confesses, “I snuck in my grandpa’s room and got his money!” Before they knew it, that $500.00 had grown to $1,500.00.
Mattress Firm heard of this amazing act of kids helping kids and has matched MacArthur’s $1,500.00 bringing the total raised to $3,000.00. This, my friends, is one beautiful act of kindness all in the name of supporting foster youth.
As one teacher stated, “They want to help and a lot of these kids get it .. they know that feeling of going without.”
Their compassion has generated a kindness that will inspire and uplift those they have come together to serve.
My congratulations to the students and teachers at MacArthur Elementary School!
Onward to fostering kindness,
To learn more about the work of the Heart Gallery New Mexico (NM) Foundation, of which I sit on the Board of Directors, please visit http://heartgallerynmfoundation.org.