"I am very happy that in three years, this project has developed in a way that involves teachers throughout the corporation," sixth-grade English teacher Paul Harbour said. "I am also thrilled that the accolades are focused towards the individual students and the teachers as a whole."
Teachers with students participating in the event included Jennifer Harbour, Amy Hardy, Elaine Clark, Susan Goodman, Deborah Allen, Lynn Wise, Heather Korff and Pat Krider.
The book "Maniac McGee," by Jerry Spinelli, stirred the idea and Harbour went with it.
"Random acts of kindness are recurring themes in most educational readings and literature," he said. "The assignment was designed to encourage students to complete a random act of kindness in the community and then use the act as a writing prompt."
Even after three years, Harbour is still amazed by the results of The Random Act of Kindness assignment.
"It has produced many positive and noteworthy results for some very giving Clay Community Schools students," he said.
Harbour was notified by teachers of the acts that took place some of the more notable projects included:
* Bailey Bell, a student at Meridian Elementary, helped her mother after she had oral surgery. When Bailey's mom awoke, her daughter had washed all the dishes in the sink and straightened the house. The mother was truly grateful,
* Tanner and Austin Kaelber, also students at Meridian Elementary, visited a nursing home in Terre Haute and helped serve meals,
* North Clay Middle School student Hannah Minor paid for a stranger's food at Page's Food Store. "The woman was apprehensive at first," she said. "But smiled with such gratitude that I will never forget it,"
* K.J. Thomas, a North Clay Middle School student, and his siblings donated $500 to the Clay City Food Pantry. They earned the money by competing in the Amazing Bible Race, a 17-week task of testing and community service, and
* Marcus Duregger, also a North Clay Middle School student, woke up early and memorized the trash pickup times of his neighbors. On the following trash day, he got up at 6:30 a.m., and took all the neighbor's trash cans to the curb for them.
While the focus of the project was on the students, the acts performed by adults were also brought to Harbour's attention.
Submitted anonymously by one of her colleagues, Northview High School security guard Fleta VanNess and her husband pick a different person each month and gives them a gift card or pays for their dinner at a restaurant. VanNess puts money into student's lunch accounts when she notices them not eating due to finances so they will be able to eat. She never tells the student that she has contributed the money.
Each year, VanNess will pick out a couple that she knows cannot afford to go to prom. She will get donations from a few of the staff members to help the couple. She will find, possibly a donated prom dress and tuxedo, as well as contacting a hair dresser and one of the flower shops to either donate or give a discount. Then she contacts a restaurant to donate a meal or she will purchase a gift certificate herself. She even sees to it that there is a gas card for the trip to the prom.
"I know these students are thrilled to be able to have memories of prom night that they would not have dreamed of without the help," Harbour said.
With all of the generosity of students and teachers, the project has begun to grow and have an influence on Harbour.
"The project in itself made an impact on me too," he said. "While my wife and I do random acts throughout the year, the process of helping others, prompted me to try to be a better person."
Harbour hopes this project will continue and help to have an impact on the students.
"In the future, I know that I will continue organizing students and staff to do this project," he said. "But the more the students get recognition for this, and the less that I do, the better."