MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Lakeview and Fulmar elementary schools, along with schools throughout the nation, participated in the Great Kindness Challenge, Jan. 28-Feb. 1. Organized by Elizabeth Blessing, the schools’ assistant principal, this challenge was devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible in and out of the classroom.

“From generously donating to a local food drive, to creating a kindness checklist at home, to reading kindness-focused literature, the students, teachers and staff all participated. You could really feel the kindness spirit throughout the schools,” said Blessing.

Evidence of this kindness spirit was found in Jacqueline DiRusso’s third-grade Lakeview class. During a group discussion, one of her students asked DiRusso if the class could do something to help other children. This immediately sparked enthusiasm from the entire class, and they were on board.  

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DiRusso turned the idea into a teachable moment. She worked with the class on selecting a cause that benefited children. Collectively, the students discussed charity options and agreed to fund-raise for the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in New York City. The hospital serves the tri-state area, including Putnam County, for children with serious diseases, and for those who need surgery.  

The students decided to host a Valentine’s Day boutique on Feb. 13 to sell items to the Lakeview student body during their lunchtimes. Students spent their recess time creating items for sale, such as rainbow loom bracelets, student-made books and “slime.” A few of the students’ parent also donated small gift items. Card Smart in Mahopac also donated items for the sale. 

DiRusso and her students also practiced their “sales pitch.”  

“We wanted our Lakeview peers to know that we were inspired by the Great Kindness Challenge and are raising money to help the lives of children who are very ill,” said DiRusso. The effort raised $656, which was delivered, along with hand-written stories and cards for the patients, to Hassenfield.

“Throughout the whole journey leading up to our fund-raiser, the students and I had meaningful discussions about being aware of the needs of others, how to care for one another and the true meaning of kindness,” DiRusso said. “The students’ mindset was the idea of creating a little miracle that is bigger than they are to make a difference.” 

Article courtesy of Mahopac School District