Toth elementary students show their letters of kindness. They are, in back row from left, fifth grader Maia Colon, fifth grader Charlotte Keller, and bottom row from left third graders Sage Kiessling and Sage Colon.
Angie Baumgartner has desks in her Toth Elementary class that are filled with crayoned-drawn thank-you cards for Toledo and Perrysburg firefighters.
The Perrysburg elementary school participated in a "Great Kindness Challenge" this week and will do so again next week and the students are sending thank-yous to firefighters in the wake of 2 Toledo firefighters who died a week ago while battling a fire.
In another act of kindness, students are bringing coffee from home to donate to a fire station, as a result of teachers hearing that firefighters have to pay for their own coffee at the station. A monetary donation to families of those lost also is circling through the Toth staff members.
"We want them to be thinking about others," said Ms. Baumgartner, a reading intervention specialist at Toth.
The main challenge for the students is a checklist of 50 acts of kindness to complete during the two weeks. Acts include smiling at 25 people, holding doors for others, making a new friend, recycling, picking up trash around the school, and saying good morning to 15 people.
Some of the Toth cards to be given, along with donated coffee, to local firefighters.
It is the second year Toth has held the kindness week and Principal Beth Christoff said it will continue every year.
Other challenges on the list are built on appreciating what others do for them, such as thanking the principal, teachers, custodians, superintendent, crossing guards, and others.
"I'd like to thank him for hiring Dr. Christoff and our teachers; we really like them," said third grader Sage Kiessling about her thank-you note to Superintendent Tom Hosler.
Fifth grader Maia Colon said her favorite challenge on the checklist is telling a joke to make someone laugh.
Fourth grade teacher Ruth Wood said her students are so into the challenge she had to hide her Band Aids because they were being taken by students who were writing thank you on them to give to the school nurse.
"I saw one student drop all her papers and another student came over picked up the papers and organized them; that's what I want to see," Ms. Christoff said. "It gives you a good feeling in a world with too many negatives. The ultimate gift is kindness."
Charlotte Keller, a fifth grader, said the checklist is a good reminder to be kind and think of others. "I wish I had a million copies of it to remember for the rest of my life," she joked.
She said sometimes she has to do silly dance moves to help cheer someone up having a bad day.
"This [Great Kindness Challenge] week is nice because people help you feel good, and then you help make them feel good," Sage said.
Contact Matt Thompson at: email@example.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.
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