The St. Edmond Catholic School Friends of Rachel Club has begun its 12 Days Of Kindness effort.
From Dec. 1 to Dec. 12, the students in grades six through eight will commit acts of kindness among their class- and schoolmates and in the community.
"We put out a list to the students to give them ideas of things they can do, things sometimes students struggle with, figuring out what they can do," Sarah Thorsbakken, St. Edmond guidance counselor, said.
St. Edmond adopted Rachel's Challenge last school year. The nationwide movement based on the writings of Columbine victim Rachel Joy Scott. Scott wrote in her journals about inclusion and starting a "chain reaction of kindness."
The students were given the list of potential good deeds before Thanksgiving, Thorsbakken said, and celebrated the start of their effort with an assembly Nov. 27.
"Some of the things on the list are helping out a friend, or someone who is in need, making them a meal," she said. "At this time of the year, raking your neighbor's yard or shoveling their sidewalk, depending on the weather, without them asking or paying you to do it."
She added, "It's seeing something that needs to be done or seeing someone who needs help and helping them."
Other deeds include sitting with someone new at lunch, complementing a stranger, writing a letter to a soldier, donating canned goods to a food pantry or a book to the local library, or posting something positive online.
Thorsbakken said it is encouraging to see her students excited and enthusiastic about wanting to be kind.
"The first day we met, they threw out about 20 different ideas of what they wanted to do throughout the school year," she said. "Just to see their enthusiasm to want to help others and spread kindness at this age, to have them thinking about others, it's pretty big. Not everyone at this age tends to think about putting others before themselves and to see students thinking, what can we do to help others?"
The students do not go without reward, though. The different grade levels are offered an incentive for committing acts of kindness, Thorsbakken said.
"The grade level with the most will win a cookie party," she said. "Some people are like, why is there an incentive for doing something good? It's also trying to teach students, as well. Usually when you do something nice for other people, it tends to make you feel good. And so, really, the reward is going to be the way they feel after they do these acts of kindness."