Amy Ames, who heads the Nayatt School Good Deeds Committee, asked the third-graders on Friday for ways they could give of themselves without giving objects or gifts.
Anna Wilkerson answered with "kind words." Lindsey Dawson suggested "a smile."
The pupils were just two of the third-graders who participated in Reach Out Nayatt -- a day to do good deeds and think about the importance of kindness and community.
This is the third year that third-grade pupils participated in Reach Out Nayatt, funded partially by grants from the Feinstein Foundation.
Nayatt is the only school in Barrington to receive the designation of a Feinstein Leadership School, which means it partners with the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation to work within their school and the community to better life for their neighbors and those further away.
Nayatt School Principal Christopher Kennedy brought the idea of partnering with the Feinstein Foundation to the school when he arrived six years ago. He said the partnership means the school commits "to follow the same values as his [Feinstein's] organization."
Kennedy is leaving Nayatt at the end of the school year. But he isn't at all worried about the continuation of Nayatt's commitment to bettering the lives of others.
"I may have brought the idea, but now it's become a part of what we do at Nayatt," said Kennedy. "It's great to see."
Feinstein visits the school twice a year. He was at Nayatt last week to give out Feinstein Junior Scholar Club membership cards, which entitle the bearer to free admission and special discounts to area attractions and lessons.
Ames said that the students at Nayatt do good deeds throughout the year, but Reach Out Nayatt is an extra special day of kindness for them to participate in.
Parent volunteers staffed four good-deed stations through which groups of pupils rotated throughout the afternoon. Each station had something different for the students to do, to help those who may be in need. As they worked at each station, the parents talked to the kids about what they're doing, and why they're doing it, to encourage empathy and compassion.
This year, the stations involved:
- potting plants with a special message for a neighbor who might be in need of cheering up;
- making catnip toys for PAWS -- a local organization that rescues and fosters cats and kittens needing permanent homes;
- decorating fabric bags for kids at Hasbro Children's Hospital;
- sending 500 pens adorned with peace signs, hearts, and messages of love to children in Afghanistan.
The stations were decided on through suggestions from parents and the Good Deeds Committee.
The pens-to-Afghanistan station, for instance, came about because Jay Gasbarro, the father of three students at Nayatt, is stationed there. Gasbarro mentioned to his family that the children in Afghanistan are constantly asking military personnel for pens because they have nothing to write with.
As the students moved through the four stations, there were plenty of smiles all around.