For the past few weeks, about 300 Greenwood students have been picking out material to make scarves and blankets with the goal of keeping people warm this winter.
Students in second through fifth grade at Westwood Elementary School have made 180 scarves and 12 blankets. Next, teachers plan to take them to downtown Indianapolis, where they will tie scarves around trees, leave blankets on benches and give some to an Indianapolis restaurant owner who has weekly dinners for the homeless.
The project to make scarves and blankets for the homeless was inspired by social media posts and news stories about similar efforts across the country.
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Two teachers thought about the homeless population in Indianapolis and the temperatures dipping below freezing and what they could do to help. They saw a need and a chance to teach their students compassion, art teacher Lauren Kibbe said.
“Not only can we help others, we can teach students at a young age that they can help,” Kibbe said.
They started with a book fair fundraiser in December. They made enough money for teachers to buy the material needed to make the scarves and blankets.
They found an easy pattern that students could replicate and began working on the project during their art and library classes earlier this month.
“It is something relatively easy for the masses to do,” Kibbe said. “This is something they can get their hands in and do.”
Each scarf can take 10 to 20 minutes to make.
Working on a project for someone else is worthwhile, fourth-grader Kenna Hussung said.
“It always feels better to give something when you know it will be appreciated,” Hussung said.
Some students wrote notes to attach to the scarves and blankets. Most wrote that they hoped they would stay warm and safe.
One student wrote, “Dear you, I hope you will like this blanket and scarf.” Another student held up a coloring book sheet, asking, “Can I give this to the homeless?”
The project was partially planned to coincide with the core essentials program at the school. Students are given a character trait to emulate monthly and complete projects based on that, said Tracy Wilson, student services adviser. As part of that program, students have also done a fundraiser for a teenage boy with cancer.
A big goal of the project is allowing students to see that they can help, even while in elementary school, Principal Dave Ennis said.
And helping others is a skill that should be taught in schools, he said.
“It is as important as books and academics are,” he said. “There is a bigger world out there that is happening outside the walls of Westwood.”