By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — It began with one nicety, one kindness, one random act.
It might have been, “I made Megan a bookmark,” or “I turned in a paper for a classmate.”
Whatever it was, it was committed to paper and turned into a link. Then, the links kept coming. A dozen rolled in. Then a hundred. Two hundred. Five hundred.
Until finally, when the members of Fitzgerald Middle School Builders Club counted them on Monday, they came to just about 1,000. A thousand acts of kindness, some random, some planned. Each committed to a strip of construction paper, and each strip linked together to form a chain of goodwill, kindness and examples of loving thy neighbor.
“This has really helped our school come together,” said Builders Club President Kit Krmpotich. “A lot of people started doing good things to try to boost the chain.”
The links have been collected for the past several weeks. Kylie Komaridis, whose daughter Sophia Griffiths is a member of the club, coordinated the project and did a lot of the stapling of the links into sections during evenings at home.
Then this week, the club members gathered to behold the giant 1,000-link behemoth of kindness.
While Krmpotich counted the links, club members Kaitlyn Frutiger, Megan Mettler, Emily Schumacher, Ava Rose Nelson, Laynie Kubista, Lillie McDermott and Griffiths worked on getting the sections together.
The messages on the links ranged from typical middle school stuff to downright precious.
“I cuddled with my brother while he was crying,” said one.
“I helped someone up from the other basketball team,” said another.
And this, the kind of thing any parent dreams their kid would one day say to a friend in need: “When a girl at the dance called herself fake and started crying, I told her she was beautiful just the way she was.”
Principal William Schumacher said he likes the project’s proactive spirit.
“They’ve been pretty excited about it,” he said.
Proactive, in fact, is exactly what the project is about.
Komaridis said they didn’t want to have an anti-bullying agenda. They didn’t want to a project that admonishment. Instead, they wanted something uplifting, something that modeled the kind of behavior that is valued.
Students say the kindness project has been a good one.
“This has been, by far, the most fun thing we’ve done this year,” Frutiger said.
Added Mettler, “Even the teachers got involved.”