TOPEKA, Kan. (KTMJ) – Kindness. It’s something everyone wants to be known for, but doesn’t always happen.
A group of middle schoolers at Washburn Rural Middle School are trying to change that, though. A teacher is making it her mission to help them do it, too.
“It’s called make a difference club,” said 7th grade teacher Lara McDonald.
“The purpose is just what the club is called, make a difference.”
Eight years ago, a group of 7th graders went to Mrs. McDonald asking to start a club.
“They wanted to get in the community, they wanted to make a change, help others, they wanted to recognize different races, different sexuality, different socioeconomic levels,” she said.
Now, every other week the group meets after school to keep the plans in motion.
This year, they’re partnering with the non-profit Let’s Help in Topeka. They collect boots, coats, hats, warm clothes and even gifts this holiday season.
“I’ve given away pajamas, in the past, I’ve given up t-shirts,” 7th grader Jessica McCarthy said. “I even gave up my Kansas City Chiefs jersey for this little girl.”
That’s not the easiest thing to part with, but McCarthy said it was worth it
“I have lots of sports gear and I have too much that doesn’t fit me, so I thought maybe a little girl would like that.”
McCarthy’s work doesn’t end there. She inspired her 9-year-old sister to help as well.
“She’s like here, I want you to give these to your teacher.”
Her sister even wrote a note saying “it was hard, but those kids need it a lot more than I do.” That message coming for a 9-year-old, who isn’t even in the club yet.
For the kids who are in the club, they’re starting to become the ones teaching the teachers.
“They teach me resilience, they teach me strength, there are several kids who come to this meeting who need help, they’re hungry, they need clothes, they need blankets and they’re still donating their stuff,” McDonald said.
That’s something that brings Mrs. McDonald to tears, because she’s found a way to help those kids first. Doing it in a way where nobody will ever find out if they are the ones getting helped. However, McDonald still credits all the work of this group to the students.
“Shining a light on how great these kids are, what they are capable of doing, and how powerful they are going to be and just change the world,” she said.
If you want to help, all month long, the group is collecting items that would help keep someone warm.
Come December, the group is asking for donations of gently used anything that could be given as a gift for the holidays.
Donations can be dropped off at Washburn Middle School and be labeled to go to the Make A Difference Club.