Knock. knock. Who’s there? Sweden.
What do you call a duck that loves making jokes?
These silly jokes and riddles go a long way, especially when they’re delivered in playful, cheery greeting cards, complete with homespun artwork.
Summit Academy Secondary School – Akron students are working on their first batches of Kindness Cards for children affected by pediatric cancer and chronic illnesses. The school, which serves students in grades 9-12, many with special learning needs, is providing the cards to Alliance, Ohio-based The Valentine Project. The nonprofit organization’s volunteers sign and send the anonymous cards to children whose lives have been turned upside down by a serious diagnosis. Families can register for the free greetings on the organization’s website.
“When kids get these cards, they really make a connection,” says Andrea Margida, president and CEO of The Valentine Project, explaining how a personalized card forms a friendship between sender and receiver, two anonymous people linked by a gesture of kindness.
The charitable organization was founded by Margida’s children, Gregory and Michaela, in 2010 – when they were just teens – to help children in health crises. The organization’s outreach to ill children and their siblings extends from the lighthearted greeting cards to decorated and filled valentine boxes and gifts bundled in homemade pillowcases.
Summit Academy Secondary School – Akron Principal Ralph Grant says the Kindness Cards project not only fits his students’ theme to “be positive, purposeful and present,” but their artistic flair as well. “We have a really strong art program and several very talented young artists,” Grant says.
So far, the students have made about 40 cards, each meant to bring a laugh, a smile, a moment of normalcy to a youngster whose daily life is otherwise overshadowed by a health condition. Summit Academy students also decorated dozens of valentine boxes for children on The Valentine Project’s long list last February and plan to keep up the tradition, all with support from their art teacher, Keytsa Bishop.
For now, however, the students’ focus is on creating cards with a light and lively spirit.
Clipping an emoji from pink construction paper, card creator Azi’Onna Bright, 15, says the project enables her to reach out to someone in need. “It’s fun and gives me a chance to be creative and help other people, to let them know others care even though they might not be in their family,” she says.
“If it helps just one person, I’ll feel good,” says sophomore Nate Phelps as he draws his rendition of the SpongeBob SquarePants character, Squidward.
“We love that the school is getting on board like this,” Margida says. “Compassion is something you must cultivate. The cards are making a huge impact on children and their families and on the volunteers. It’s bringing out the very best of us as human beings.”