Taking kindness to the next level

Holy Redeemer School has started a new club this year — the Kindness Crew

Submitted photo On Monday, several Kindness Crew members, including, from left, Annabel Coudron, Alissa Moen and Cami Kaas, began making special Valentine’s Day cards for people in the com

MARSHALL — A new club recently started at Holy Redeemer School and its student members have been working hard to spread more kindness throughout their community.

The Kindness Crew currently has between 15-20 students involved, depending on their schedules. The activity came to fruition with the coordinated effort of Amy Sauter and Mary Surprenant.

“Amy is homeschooling her two daughters (Berlin and Estella), but they also come to school here for certain subjects,” said Surprenant, who serves as a resource teacher at HRS. “She came to me and said she had an idea she wanted to pitch to me. Now, we’re calling it The Kindness Crew and it’s going to be for fifth- through eighth-grade students. It’s an after school club and our goal is to do one community service project a month.”

While the Holy Redeemer School students also do service projects within the school year, this club provides opportunities for even more leadership and hands-on experiences — something that is especially important for students who might not take part in sports or other activities.

“The meetings are right after school from 3-4 p.m.,” Surprenant said. “The idea is that we have a crew — the leadership team that makes decisions — and then everyone under it is part of the club. Right now within the school day, we have student council, which does a lot. We also do service projects within school, but this is above and beyond that. I see this as an extension of (a new social skills program I’m teaching called CHARGE). It’s about giving some of those kids who aren’t in hockey or other things a chance to be part of something.”

CHARGE is a new program aimed at proactively providing students and teachers tools that can be used to nurture and grow a positive school climate of compassion, communication and cooperation. Surprenant leads the 30-minute CHARGE sessions on a bi-weekly basis. Individual and small group sessions then take place as needed.

The Kindness Crew had its first few meetings near the end of November and made plans for a Winter Fun Zone at Marshall’s Light Up the Night event held in December at Independence Park. Other volunteer efforts took place in December, including the Salvation Army’s bell ringing project.

“We had some ideas for the first month or so, but ultimately, we want the crew to come up with good ideas to do in the community,” Surprenant said. “Amy’s big hope is that the ideas come from the kids.”

On Monday, the Kindness Crew members began making homemade Valentine’s Day cards to residents of the community’s assisted living places, group homes, hospitals and beyond.

“The Kindness Crew has been very busy,” Surprenant said. “We met (Monday) and started making Valentines for our Community Heart project we have dubbed ‘Viral Valentines.’ Over the next few weeks, students will continue to produce Valentines at home, marking them from the HRS Kindness Crew. We plan to distribute several hundred of these to Avera cancer patients, hospital patients, group homes, Meals on Wheels recipients and people in retirement homes.”

Future projects include helping with preparation, serving and cleanup at Esther’s Kitchen and assisting with the monthly distribution of food boxes through Ruby’s Pantry.