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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2013

A lesson on life

Usually, teachers teach and students learn in a classroom. But kids can also teach adults a thing or two.

Take Perrysburg Junior High School seventh-grader Michael Skotynsky. This month, he slept outside in a rain-soaked makeshift shelter for a social-studies assignment on diversity. Michael, 12, then turned the experience into an opportunity to help others.

His subsequent letter to Home Depot, seeking help for homeless Toledoans, triggered a donation by the company to Cherry Street Mission. On one night last week, the downtown mission provided shelter to 250 men and women.

Last week, representatives of Home Depot surprised Michael and his class by presenting the mission with seven tarps and $175 in vouchers to buy store goods. Home Depot also gave Michael a plaque and a gift card to a video-game retailer.

Michael could have prepared his assignment by sitting behind a computer in a warm room, surfing the Internet. Instead, he chose to get a small taste of how many other people must live.

Sleeping in moving boxes outside his suburban home is not like having to stay on the street, or in a shelter, for weeks, months, or even years. Still, Michael used a routine class project to teach adults a valuable lesson about empathy — something the world could use a lot more of.

By inspiring the donation, he made the world a little better. Well done.

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