Column: Kindness offers lifelong lessons


By Paul Bakker, Pinecrest Elementary principal

At this time of year, we often hear about random acts of kindness in which people go out of their way to help others.

These acts may be as simple as helping another person by holding a door, pushing a stuck car out of the snow, or paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line. On a larger scale, they may be as generous as helping cover the cost for a kid to participate in music lessons or play a sport.

As adults, we realize the impact of our actions and readily model it for our children.

So, how can we help our children learn and experience this important value of helping others?

At Pinecrest Elementary, we strive to support our students to feel connected to helping others not only at our school, but in our world as well. For the past nine years, our students have supported the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the "Pennies for Patients" program. However, the group of students who started this campaign have long since moved on from Pinecrest.

To renew the personal connections our students feel to an organization dedicated to helping others, we will be choosing another cause to support this year.

Learning about service organizations first hand can be a powerful experience. The students in each of our fourth-grade classes recently chose five organizations to research: Feed My Starving Children, The Water Project, Parents for Heart, St. Jude's Research Hospital, and Pawsitivity Service Dogs.

Once they have learned how each organization helps others, they will be sharing with the larger school community through short videos they create. These videos will help the entire student body make a schoolwide decision, leading up to this year's coin drive.

I'm always amazed at the level of excitement and dedication our students invest into our coin drive, with totals reaching a few thousand dollars each year! This year's drive will conclude with a family bingo night in which the coins used as bingo markers will be donated to our cause.

As educators, we are always committed to helping our students develop academically through daily instruction. It is through connecting the content of what we teach not only to the mind, but to the heart as well that we have the greatest impact!

Thank you to all of you who have helped support the students of Hastings learn these lessons.