Though Dakota Hackney is only an eighth-grade student, he knows the actions he and his classmates took Friday could have changed someone’s life forever.
Dakota was one of nine students at Crisman School to warm up the lives of residents at Hiway 80 Rescue Mission on Friday by donating items such as jackets, hoodies, shoes, socks, gloves, hats and scarves. Their generosity was a community project and part of the school’s Kiwanis Builders Club.
“It means a lot to me, and I’ll never forget this opportunity,” said Dakota, who serves as vice president of the club.
It meant a lot to Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, as well, said Executive Director Eric Burger.
Burger said oftentimes those who are homeless can “feel alone” and that “no one cares.” The simple act of someone providing a pair of gloves can mean the world to them, he said.
Crisman School, which serves children with learning differences such as dyslexia, ADHD and Asperger syndrome, formed the Kiwanis Builders Club to teach students about character education and giving back to the community, said school Director Laura Lea Blanks.
“We do a lot of projects, and we talk about how to support the people of the world,” said seventh-grader Aidan Byrd, president of the school’s club. “People need to have the things they need, and they need to be supported.”
The students got the idea for the project after hearing that Hiway 80 was in extreme need of warm clothes donations.
The news came on the campus’ 100th day of school, so the students decided they would spend one week collecting 100 items to donate.
“It’s an amazing thing to me,” Dakota said of the project.
The students plan to make it a regular habit of donating to the rescue mission.
They learned Friday that the mission needs flash drives for students who live there to be able to do computer work and also needs non-electric alarm clocks.
The students said they wanted to start collecting those items for the mission, as well.
Their teacher and Kiwanis Builders Club sponsor Robin Hightower said as a parent and educator, she always hopes for academic achievement but even greater than that, “you hope they will have compassion for each other and other people.”
“I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.