By Thomas Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of fourth-graders at Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Elementary School have banded together for Project Jack.
“Iowa Realtors decided that they were going to start a project where any fifth-graders could apply to do a project to give to those in need or just do good deeds, and they decided this year to do the same thing for fourth grade,” said Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock fourth-grade teacher Deb Kuhlemeier.
“Our kids came up with the idea. They wanted to do something for animals,” she said.
Kuhlemeier has been at RRMR for 28 years and has taught fourth grade for 22 years.
The project was started in the Quad Cities by the Realtor Foundation of Iowa in memory of Jack Lindaman, who died in 2010 of spinal muscular atrophy at age 6.
The project gives fourth- and fifth-graders the chance to do good and “pay it forward” by giving them $250 to spend on projects in their communities.
The children gave PAWS in Charles City blankets for their animal crates and toys for the animals.
With money that was left over the kids made bags out of T-shirts for children who go to the emergency room. The bags are filled with toys, movies and other things.
“Most of the kids go to Mason City, so that’s the direction that we went,” Kuhlemeier said.
The effort by the children and teachers started earlier this year in February.
“They have a deadline to apply, and we were accepted,” Kuhlemeier said.
The teachers asked the students what to put inside the T-shirt bags.
“They gave us all the ideas,” Kuhlemeier said. “They were great! They gave us lots of ideas, I wanted to make sure they had hands on.”
The teachers went shopping for the toys, coloring books and movies.
“We have to have the things all done by April 13, which is this Friday,” Kuhlemeier said. “We’ve had all the things since last week, but we didn’t put them in the bags and things until this morning.”
PAWS Director Julie Taylor came to RRMR Wednesday morning with Nikki, one of the dogs from PAWS, and visited the children.
The fourth-grade class at RRMR wasn’t the only class to get involved with Project Jack this year. The fifth-grade class also gave money to two different organizations.
Coni Butler, the sixth-grade homeroom teacher and fifth-grade language arts teacher, has led the fifth-grade class at RRMR in Project Jack for two years.
“Our fifth-grade class this year decided to donate the money to the Northern Lights Homeless Shelter in Mason City and to the (University of Iowa) Stead Children’s Hospital in Iowa City,” Butler said.
“It was cold in January when we were talking about it and the kids were very worried about the homeless people and we talked about the fact that there are homeless people in north Iowa.”
The kids are also familiar with “The Wave” at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City that takes place outside Stead Children’s Hospital.
“We earmarked our $250 donation to be used to buy T-shirts for the kids that are in the hospital that acknowledge the wave,” Butler said. “The Stead Children’s Hospital has been built so it rises above football stadium at the university and at the end of the first quarter of every game action stops and the players, the coaches, everybody in the stands turns around and waves.”
Last year the class donated money to Coaches Versus Cancer Night in honor of their teacher, Amanda Dow, who battled breast cancer and survived, Butler said.
“The reason it was only fifth-grade last year, and they expanded it to fourth-grade this year, is because Jack would’ve have been in fifth-grade the year they did this,” Butler said. “So it was kind of his class that they started this with.”
The fourth-grade students at RRMR that helped put on the project are Nicole Arndt, Benjamin Boehmer, Collin Bohr, Allee Burt, Kylie Crowe, Danika deBuhr, Ashton Foell, Auron Gamble, Hannah Hillman, Briella Hinrichsen, Colson Johnson, Ava Koenigsfeld, Eva Litterer, Chloe Miller, Abigail Muller, Aeden Nobbs, Makenna Norby, Wyatt Parcher, Emma Pearson, Benjamin Percy, Christian Pierce, Hayden Putney, Paetyn Reicks, Brylee Ritter, Kailee Rodrigues, Brekken Schlader, Grace Schmitt, Jaylah Schriever, Zane Schulz and Caleb Winters.