It was a lesson in kindness — with more than a little math thrown in.
Students in Carly Lehnhart’s Sítʼ Eetí Shaanáx̱ – Glacier Valley School kindergarten class, staffed a pop-up shop Friday afternoon to raise money for a Ukrainian family living in Washington state that fled Ukraine amid Russia’s violent invasion.
“We have been working hard as a class to talk about Kindness Squad,” Lehnhart said, explaining that Kindness Squad is a term she made up for students to encourage good deeds. “It’s basically me using it as a way to encourage my students to spread kindness — even without anybody watching.”
Recently a student was discussing the ongoing war in Ukraine, and it became apparent “the Kindness Squad has a big job to do,” Lehnhart said.
A classroom para-educator was aware of a family displaced by the invasion living in Washington state and in need of donations for clothing and food. Brainstorming began for a way to help out. The idea of selling cards decorated with students’ drawings of Ukraine’s national flower, the sunflower, was settled upon.
“We learned about how we have a state flower, and we learned about their national flower,” Lehnhart said.
Adults picking up students and community members were enthusiastic in supporting the card stand, which included a photo of the family that will receive the funds raised, handmade signage and a plastic, primary-colored cash register containing real money. During purchases, Lehnhart helped students work out how much a purchase would cost and operate the cash register.
Mark Kelley was among the students’ customers. He said he’s a longtime friend of Lehnhart’s, and he was drawn to supporting a good cause.
“She told us about it last night, and I thought, ‘It’s so cool,’” Kelley said.
Jan Beauchamp, another customer, was similarly enthusiastic.
“What a great idea these kids had,” Beauchamp said. “I mean, how can you pass this up?”
As of Friday evening, the cards had raised $550, Lehnhart said, with many asking if they could buy cards on Monday.
Lehnhart said she could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by people wishing to make donations.