Youngsters write letters to spread kindness and cheer

Miami View third-graders hold up the letters they wrote on a recent Friday to send to South Charleston area residents.

(Posted Feb. 1, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

South Charleston residents who could use a pick-me-up or a kind word are receiving exactly that from youngsters learning the importance of taking care of their community.

This school year, Miami View Elementary teacher Josh Murray started a Pay It Forward program with his third-graders in which they write letters and draw pictures to send to area residents.

One group of letters went to a man whose brother had passed away.

“We heard back from the man, who said the family put the letters out at the funeral. He said it was healing. The letters helped them feel a little better in a difficult time,” Murray said.

Miami View’s 60 third-graders spend time writing letters every Friday and sometimes on other days of the week.

“I always do the first sentence or two for them, then give them ideas of what to write from there… A lot of times, what they come up with is really heartfelt,” Murray said.

McKenzie Church, a third-grader at Miami View Elementary, writes a letter as part of a Pay It Forward program. The letter will go to a South Charleston resident in need of a kind word.

The recipients are people Murray hears about in talking to fellow school employees and village residents. Sometimes, students make suggestions, like the girl who said her sister, a kindergartener, could use some cheering up after breaking her arm.

Almost every time the students send letters out, they get a letter back from the recipient.

“The students get really excited when they get a letter back. Some even tear up because it means so much to them,” Murray said.

Murray said the kindness lesson appears to be taking hold. He has noticed his students doing more nice things for one another and others. Some are small, others are more demonstrative. Murray said he heard from a parent whose daughter made a “Have a nice day!” sign and held it up in her yard for passersby to see.

“I want my students to understand that taking just a little time to think of others can make a huge impact. Just saying ‘thanks,’ giving someone a compliment, or opening the door for someone–it makes such a positive difference,” he said.

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