NMS students pay it forward

Story and photos by Ronna LawlessStaff Writer
NMS students pay it forward

Sixth-graders at Nevada Middle School had a lesson in “paying it forward” Friday afternoon. A $250 grant provided materials to let them brighten the lives of some elderly people in the community.

The kids divided into groups and created 25 colorful flowerpots that they planted with an arrangement of flowers and plants.

“We’re going to deliver these spring planters to members of the community who were referred to us by local churches as elderly or have trouble leaving their homes often,” said sixth-grade teacher Kate Wieczorek.

The rain kept them from delivering the plants that afternoon as they’d originally planned, but it didn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm for the project.

“I think it’s really nice that young people can give to elderly people who can’t get outside much,” said sixth-grader Katelyn Khounsourath.

That notion of making a difference in the lives of others is exactly what “Pay it Forward with Project Jack,” the grant program that funded the local project, is all about.

Jack Lindaman was 6 years old in 2010, when he died from spinal muscular atrophy. A student in the Quad Cities area, Lindaman would have been a sixth-grader this year.

Lindaman liked making people happy and was “a positive light to those around him,” despite his health issues, according to the Project Jack website.

Last year, each person in Lindaman’s class at Alan Shepard Elementary School received $100 to pay it forward. With no stipulations on how to use the money, projects ranged from donations to charities to passing out roses to strangers.

This year, the grant, which is funded by the Realtor Foundation of Iowa, spread to include students outside Lindaman’s hometown. When Wieczorek heard about the opportunity to apply for the grant, “I thought it could be a really positive project for our students,” she said. “Our sixth-graders are very excited to spread some spring cheer as they pay it forward to members of the community.”

Holub Garden and Greenhouses helped the kids stretch their grant money, Wieczorek said. “Holub’s donated for the projects, and they gave us big discounts on the flowers,” she said.

Sixth-grader Tia Crane was excited about the idea of brightening the homes of some of Nevada’s elderly. She’s no stranger to doing nice things for them. “My mom works for the nursing home, so I get to go visit and the people there are so nice,” she said. “I really like going there, especially to see a lady named Lynne.”

The planters will be delivered this week. “I’m happy we get to give the elderly a little joy,” Khounsourath said.