MFL MarMac fifth graders pay it forward

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Fifth graders Hailea Pritchard and Ruby Koeller played the board game Candy Land with Gaylord Oelke, a resident at Great River Care Center (GRCC), in McGregor, on March 30. Their teacher, Amy Bunting, recently received a $250 Project Jack Grant from the Iowa Association of Realtors. The class visits GRCC several times each year, so they decided to use the money to purchase several board games, hands-on/minds-on activities, art supplies and even an air hockey table that would accommodate wheelchairs. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Students, like Dalton Krause, especially enjoyed playing air hockey with the Great River Care Center residents.

Kaylee Nuehring and Erynn Evanson helped bring out the residents’ artistic talents.

When MFL MarMac fifth grade teacher Amy Bunting received a $250 Project Jack Grant from the Iowa Association of Realtors, she asked her class what they wanted to do with the money in order to “pay it forward.”  

“Our class visits the Great River Care Center a few times a year, and the kids wanted to bring a smile to the residents’ faces there and spend time with them,” she said.

So, they came up with the idea to purchase several board games, hands-on/minds-on activities, art supplies and even an air hockey table that would accommodate wheelchairs. The students were excited about the plan and even wanted to sing to the residents. 

Bunting said her co-worker, junior kindergarten teacher Amy Decker, sent her a link about the “pay it forward” grant since she thought it would be a great learning experience for the students. It happened to be open to the fifth-grade level this year, on a first-come, first-serve basis, Bunting noted. After applying in January, it only took Bunting one month to hear she and her class were one of the recipients. 

The purpose of the grant is to help others, with no stipulations on how the money is used. The Project Jack grant originated in the Quad Cities, at the Allan Shepard Elementary School. It is named for Jack Lindaman, a 6-year-old student at the school who lost his battle with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in February 2010. The disease affected the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, which robbed him of physical strength. SMA is the number-one genetic cause of death for infants. 

In honor of Jack’s life, Bunting’s fifth graders sang for him and enjoyed the company of the Great River Care Center residents by playing games and creating artwork on Thursday, March 30. 

“It’s so wonderful to see the kids wanting to do good for others, and, in turn, they learn valuable life lessons,” Bunting shared.

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