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Fifth-graders pay it forward to Trinity Care Center

Fifth-graders from Farmington Elementary School raised $466 for the activities department at Trinity Care Center after reading the book “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Submitted photo

Six fifth-graders at Farmington Elementary School learned last Thursday what a difference they could make in the lives of others.

As the culmination of a group project for teacher Julie Mogensen's reading class, they presented the residents of Farmington's Trinity Care Center with $466 they raised after reading Catherine Ryan Hyde's "Pay It Forward."

The book, which follows the efforts of a 12-year-old boy who effects a positive change in his community by asking people to pay his good deeds forward, inspired the class to come up with their way of spreading kindness.

Under the guidance of Mogensen and school counselor Jen Venz, the students chose to host a Hat Day, inviting their peers to donate $1 to their cause in exchange for getting to wear a hat to school one day. And they chose to donate the money to Trinity Care Center, a nursing home in Farmington, in honor of their grandparents, some of whom reside in nursing homes.

"We talked about how exciting that would be for those older people to get to see us when we come in," Mogensen said.

Mogensen, who leads a different book-based project like this each year, said she wanted her students to learn the importance of doing things for others without expecting anything in return.

"We wanted to teach them the important skills of doing something to make the world a better place, and doing it not because you are getting paid or because you have to, but because you want to make a change in the world and maybe others will follow your lead," she said.

The students made posters, created a PowerPoint presentation, and spread the word about their project on the school's morning announcements. They also helped collect and count the money they raised. Mogensen said it was nice to see them show initiative.

"The kids that are doing this are not typically your leaders of the school," she said. "We wanted to give them a chance to be the leaders of the school and to get to have the school involved."

She said projects like this allow children to see the positive impact they can have on their own community.

"It's just life lessons of, 'Wow, look what you did for others, and someday you might be in a nursing home or care center like them,'" she said. "Those people like visitors and volunteers. I hope that will open up an avenue for young kids to and help out and volunteer, and maybe even build a friendship with them."

Trinity Care Center director Joy Lauterbach said she was honored the students chose Trinity as their recipient.

"We were honored they thought of our facility because there are lots of places to give through," she said. "It turned out the kids have had volunteer experience here and they came up with the idea all on their own ... Ultimately, it gives a feeling of self-worth when they fundraise and you're the recipient. It's good all around."

Lauterbach said Trinity will use the money to purchase Bingo prizes and treat the residents by ordering in special food, such as Dairy Queen or Weng's Kitchen.

"It's something different for the residents," she said. "They love it. Instead of charging the residents, we're able to pay for it with this."

She said she and the residents were pleasantly surprised when they found out what the students had done.

"We were totally shocked to see the younger generation come up with this idea and goal, implement it, and then follow through," Lauterbach said. "That was amazing."

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