Fort Mill Times

'Kindness' club targets teachers

About 30 Gold Hill Elementary School students, all members of Random Acts of Kindness, skipped recess last Wednesday to soap up and spray off five vehicles. Their effort was to applaud teachers and staff for their many unselfish acts.
About 30 Gold Hill Elementary School students, all members of Random Acts of Kindness, skipped recess last Wednesday to soap up and spray off five vehicles. Their effort was to applaud teachers and staff for their many unselfish acts.

Madison "Maddie" Hiers ditched recess.

So did Hanna Grubbs. Ditto for Paige Wagner.

The Gold Hill Elementary School students had no time for swinging, playing or chatting.

The girls, plus 27 other classmates - all members of the Random Acts of Kindness Club - were on a mission. Their double goal: wash five employee vehicles and honor teachers.

Hanna Grubbs, 8, had no issues with abandoning playtime, she said.

"I wanted to make our teachers happy," Hanna said. "We love them."

The mission was a holdover from a teacher appreciation event that was rained out earlier this month. But the effort delayed didn't lack momentum. It was all about evoking happiness.

"I like making other people happy," 9-year-old Paige Wagner said. "It makes me feel really good."

So, the students last Wednesday performed their random acts of kindness by washing three cars and two vans.

Anna Louise Lewis, 9, washed a van. Then she washed a car. Each time she used the same technique - soaping each vehicle with little circles, she said.

"So I could get every single spot," she said.

And getting it right was important, she said.

"It's something nice to do for them," she said about the teachers.

Nearby, Lane Imler squeezed out a cloth. And someone let the water hose rip past a car.

"Someone sprayed me," 8-year-old Madison Taylor said.

Playful laughter rang out, but even in play the group never forgot the teachers.

"If we didn't have teachers, we wouldn't learn," said Cody Johnson, 10, who also got soaked.

Ashley Simpson added, "They've done so much for us. We need to give back to them what they have given us."

A teacher and media assistant were among the five employees whose vehicles were washed. Both lost their jobs due to districtwide budget cuts. For the two women, the students' acts were bittersweet.

"They did a random act of kindness, washing my van," said Marie Tollison, a media assistant.

"I feel humbled that they would care enough.

"It's just so very sweet, kind and loving," she added. "The children here are just like that. They're just wonderful."

For Spanish teacher Isa Ward, the wash was a necessary cure-all for her dirty car.

"It was heaven sent because now that's one less thing I have to do," she said. "I have been trying to get my car washed since our Easter break, but I didn't get a chance. Now, she doesn't have to worry about it.

"That makes me feel great," she said.

That's what Random Acts of Kindness, formed last year, specializes in: making someone's day by taking the time to do something special.

"I want to promote good character in these kids," group organizer and school guidance counselor Jennifer Chwaszczewski said. "It gives them a different way of looking at the world."

The effort also teaches students to care more for others and less for themselves, she said.

"That's the reason we started the club," she said. "We want them to think about others."

Reese Phillips celebrated her ninth birthday last Friday, but days earlier she doled out gifts in the form of car washes.

"We worked as a team and did it," said Reese, who washed the vehicles with a sponge.

By washing the vehicles, the group made five employees' day. For that moment, Isa Ward forget about her retirement wrought by budget shortfalls and the downturn economy.

"It didn't matter," she said.

What matters most, she said, is her students.

And their random acts of kindness.

"I'm going to miss them," she said. "The kids make me feel young. They keep me hopping. They make me feel appreciated."

All that from a random act of kindness.

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