A group of 15 students has been gathering every Friday afternoon, and not to see the hottest movie release or play games, but to perform an act of kindness.
The “52 Weeks of Giving” gang, as they’re known in Middlesboro, Ky., meet at the public library with a simple goal: to make a brighter tomorrow one week at a time.
They have collected food for local food banks, surprised fireman with hand-made “Thank You” cards and dinner, written letters to families who have lost loved ones, decorated the homes of cancer patients with messages of hope, raked the yard of an elderly neighbor, placed flags on graves on Memorial Day, and more.
“They are my heart,” said Cindy Wyatt, a Middlesboro-Bell County librarian. “They’re helping our community.”
The program began as a one-year project with a small group of elementary school kids, but after one year, the kids wanted to keep it going. Now the program is in its third year and going strong.
“We sort of thought it would be broadening horizons for these kids, but what we found is that the blessings were ours as much as theirs,” Middlesboro-Bell County librarian Libby Edwardson said.
“This town doesn’t offer a lot for our children,” Wyatt added. “We are a small town and we wanted something that they could feel a part of.”
Beyond their town, they have raised money for orphans in Uganda, cancer research and wounded veterans. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the “52 Weeks of Giving” gang raised more than $500 for the Boston Public Library in memory of the bombings’ youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard.
“They have selflessly performed hundreds of hours of community service, cleaning up downtown, taking trash out of the canal, decorating homes for holidays, planting flowers and trees,” Edwardson wrote in an essay to “GMA.” “If you are worried about the future of America, I ask you to come and meet our ‘Givers.’”