What do you get when you combine a vision to help others, an important cause, and almost 600 big-hearted elementary school students in Frisco? The incredible story of Purefoy Elementary’s Fourth Annual Kindness Project!
The school-wide project is designed to teach students the importance of community service and showing kindness to others. This year, Purefoy chose to adopt DeQueen Elementary in Port Arthur, Texas, a school hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
They sponsored a one-week coin drive to purchase supplies for the students and staff of DeQueen, as well as a two-week gently used book drive to help replenish classroom libraries.
Initially, the mission was simply to teach kids about kindness and raise awareness of their peers in Port Arthur who were without even basic school supplies. But in the end, the Kindness Project raised an incredible $8,655 for DeQueen Elementary and contributed five huge moving boxes full of books.
$8,655 is a really big number – but it’s even more impressive when you consider that it came straight from the hearts and piggy banks of generous kids in the school. Purefoy school counselor Tiffany Ragland said,
Our students, families, and staff embraced the DeQueen Project in such a big way. Students would drop off the books and coins in the morning with huge smiles and a sense of pride. My heart is so full seeing our school family come together to share their love and kindness for DeQueen.”
On Monday, January 29th, the first day of the coin drive, the students brought in an impressive $574. As excitement built throughout the week, so did the giving totals. By Thursday, Purefoy students had contributed more than $5,000 (and they weren’t done, yet)!
The students fully embraced the opportunity to make a difference and did so with huge smiles and happy hearts.
Kindergartener Brayden McCloskey came home from school excited and eager to help. He searched the house for coins and asked his family for their spare change and dollars, but he wanted to do more. Brayden then went into his own piggy bank, where he had been saving his birthday and gift money since he was born, and took out a $20 bill. Brayden explained, “I have plenty of money in my piggy bank. This school needs this money.”
Second-grader Jack Lacy decided to empty his piggy bank of coins to bring to school and then asked if he could also donate the remainder of his Christmas money from his grandparents to DeQueen. His mother Leslie says,
He remembered Hurricane Harvey well and was sad to know there were kids that lost everything at their school.” She added, “We were really proud of him for wanting to donate his Christmas money without thinking twice about it, just knowing that someone else was in need.”
Third-grader Sydney Turman and her brother, Bentley, a first-grader, gave generously and learned first-hand about helping others. Their mother, Lindsey Turman, is a teacher at Purefoy Elementary. She said,
As a mom, it was so great to hear my kids come home talking about how they wanted to bring money to school to help the kids of DeQueen Elementary. They both wanted to wipe out all the money in their piggy banks to bring for these kids. I am so proud to be a part of a school that teaches them such valuable lessons.”
Fifth-grader Vikram Ramanujam is also a great example of big-hearted generosity. His dad, Kannan Ramanujam, shared,
When Vikram heard about DeQueen, he immediately took every dollar and coin from his saved allowance to contribute to the cause.” Kannan added, “We discussed what happened and what it means to recover from such a situation and what his peers in DeQueen were going through. [Vikram] was excited to do more!”
We try to teach our students to lead with a servant’s heart,” said First grade teacher Natasha Jansen. “In all my twenty years of teaching, this project has touched my heart more than anything else I’ve experienced. Every morning, my students would come running down the hallway with their bags of change filled to the top, and with a huge smile on their faces. They would tell me how they used their own money, asked their moms and dads, and even their extended family to help with the project.”
Purefoy PTA volunteer and Kindness Project Coordinator Kim Nelson shared that after Hurricane Harvey happened in August, it was on her heart to do something for the hurricane victims. Through her church, Kim was able to connect with the principal of DeQueen Elementary and a special friendship began between the two schools. Kim is amazed by how this journey has turned out saying,
What began as a small idea about Purefoy sending basic supplies to DeQueen Elementary turned into an AMAZING outpouring of support from our Purefoy family.”
DeQueen Elementary was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, with 90% of the student population impacted. 20 of the 36 teachers lost their homes and are currently living in neighboring communities and making long drives to work daily.
With donations raised by the coin drive, Purefoy will be able to purchase much-needed supplies for DeQueen Elementary. The original goal was to purchase basic supplies for the school, including new pencils, pens, markers, Clorox wipes, and Kleenex. Purefoy will also donate learning tools like classroom novel sets, dictionaries and math manipulatives.
Because the coin drive was so successful, the donation can now include some larger items from DeQueen’s “wish list” including a die cutting machine for teachers and exercise ball seating for students. (Exercise ball seating is a very big deal with elementary kids these days. Purefoy students are SO excited to be able to donate exercise balls for DeQueen and the DeQueen kids are thrilled to receive them!)
On the last day of the coin drive, Purefoy students had the opportunity to FaceTime with Mrs. Gloston, the principal of DeQueen, and a group of her students. Purefoy students were thrilled to “meet” the people they were helping and loved watching Mrs. Gloston’s and the kids’ reaction when they learned just how much money had been raised.
This face-to-face interaction was a highlight of the week for many parents, students, and teachers – and really brought together all of the lessons learned during the Kindness Project.
And it inspired even more giving. One Purefoy dad who happened to be at the assembly went straight to the office and emptied out his wallet, donating more than $800 to the cause.
Mrs. Gloston is abundantly grateful and humbled that another school would do this for her school,” said Kim. “Without doubt, our friends at DeQueen Elementary know that they have friends at Purefoy Elementary.”
Purefoy students concluded the Kindness Project by making bookmarks at their Valentine’s Day class parties for each of the students at DeQueen, a personal and heartfelt gift which will accompany the books which were collected. It was one more piece of the overall effort to ensure the students are personally involved in giving to the program.
Purefoy Elementary began its Kindness Week projects three years ago, but the school dedicates multiple programs to giving over the course of the year, including the Small World Angels program and a Frisco Family Services food drive. School counselor Tiffany Ragland wants to ensure the school is putting their character strengths into action. The Purefoy Elementary character strengths are:
- Social IQ (compassion, empathy, kindness, and thinking of others)
- Zest (excitement and energy)
- Gratitude (thankfulness and appreciation)
- Purpose (acting with intention)
I wanted to bring all of these together for our students to truly understand how they can make a difference not only for others, but to shape who they are and want to be in the future,” said Mrs. Ragland. “I feel it’s important for students to start learning at an early age that he/she can be a servant leader.”
Mrs. Ragland is quick to note that the enthusiastic support from parents and volunteers who make programs like this possible. She said,
The PTA wholeheartedly supported the Kindness project and Kim Nelson (the coordinator) has been instrumental. Her heart and dedication to help others is evident – talk about a great role model.”
Purefoy’s 2017 Fun Run also had a charitable component. As the major PTA fundraiser of the year, the Fun Run brought in more than $28,000 in support of the school. For the first time, however, 10% of those funds were designated for charity—specifically to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Fun Run chair Caryn Kalmar said,
I wanted to do it because I felt we could! We are such a generous community. I know we could have used the funds for great purchases for Purefoy but due to the past couple of [successful] years we have been able to go above and beyond and I thought it was time to expand the ‘community.’
With the addition of funds raised by the Fun Run, the Purefoy community will be donating an incredible $10,970 to DeQueen, and they were able to host a special luncheon Valentine’s Day for the DeQueen staff.
Big Learning Opportunities
One of my favorite parts of hearing the students’ stories was hearing time and again how much FUN they had during the week. I rounded up a handful of students who demonstrated enthusiasm about the program, and here’s what they had to say.
Helping DeQueen was awesome! It was amazing to see how many coins the school brought in!” – 5th grader Andrew Nelson
It was cool that we were helping. I was happy when I saw that the bags were so heavy.” – Kindergartener John Blackburn, who helped gather the donated coins after school.
It was fun to see how much money we could collect for (DeQueen).” – First-grader Bentley Turman
I’m happy that we were able to help the kids at DeQueen. It made me feel really good inside to help. We should be thankful that we were able to help.” – First-grader Madalyn Williams
My favorite part of Kindness Week was getting to hear how happy the principal of DeQueen Elementary was to hear how much money we raised for her. It was really cool to see how excited she was.” – Third-grader Sydney Turman
Over and over, these students described their week as “fun”, “awesome”, “cool” and “happy.” All too often with adults, giving can feel like a duty or another obligation on the “to do” list. For these kids, it was truly a meaningful and exciting experience.
Next time you have the opportunity to give, I hope you will give like a Purefoy student – with an open heart and a big smile – because “cool!” “awesome!” and “fun!” is exactly what helping others should be.