Sharon Second Graders Extend Kindness Challenge

Students Add Love Notes to Blankets of Hope
Posted on 02/12/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Students Add Love Notes to Blankets of HopeA reminder to be kind from a local radio station prompted a Sharon teacher, whose mind was already focused on how her second graders would observe the Great Kindness Challenge, to apply for Blankets of Hope, a national effort to meet the needs of homeless people. As a result, the kindness continues and several individuals in Jackson who are without a permanent home will spend their Valentine’s Day warmly reminded of some children’s care.

Danielle VanCleave teaches at the Sharon School in Sharon. A couple of weeks before they and many of the county schools would be observing the Great Kindness Challenge, she was listening to Froggy 104, a local radio station. The station has a regular segment on doing good and on this day the focus was Blankets of Hope.

Blankets of Hope, founded in 2016 by brothers Mike and Nick Fiorito in New York, has a simple mission. They provide blankets to schools. Teachers and students whose applications are approved are asked to write notes and then deliver both the blankets and attached notes to an assigned area outreach program. Blankets of Hope has a goal this year of distributing 20,000 blankets and handwritten notes to homeless people across the U.S.

The Great Kindness Challenge is a grassroots movement observed in more than 110 countries. The event is usually a week long and encourages schools and communities “to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place for all.”

Preparing their care packages
VanCleave thought combining the international kindness initiative with the national blanket provision would be a great way to further help the children connect to messages of kindness. She applied and hoped the blankets would arrive as the children spent January 27-31 dressed in themed attire such as pajamas to emphasize “dreaming of kindness” or camouflage to remind students “not to hide their kindness” as well as thinking of kind things they could do at school and at home. While a letter from Blankets of Hope organizers did arrive saying the class application was accepted, the blankets didn’t make it to Sharon during Kindness Week. Instead, they appeared just in time to give the second graders a chance to show some Valentine’s Day love to strangers.

On Monday morning, students began the task of writing their letters which will be tied to the new purple blankets and delivered by VanCleave and a few students and parents on Friday, Valentine’s Day. Since the assigned shelter is in Jackson, WBBJ’s Julia Ewoldt captured the children’s work and some of their comments for broadcast on the evening news.

Elizabeth Hobcock said that she was excited to help “people who are really, really cold” and she wanted them to know of Jesus’ love. Tristan Phelps said he was happy he could draw a picture and write his note so that the currently homeless people “will know that God blessed them and that they will know that we care.”

“Blankets of Hope combines our goals of both helping our students excel academically and addressing the whole child,” explained VanCleave. “They are using their writing skills, creatively illustrating their thoughts through pictures, and building character as they tie those notes to the blankets and realize that they are making a difference in someone’s life. That’s what education should be – life-changing.”