St. Ann students embody spirit of Thanksgiving all year long with ‘Acts of Kindness’ program

St. Ann students sort toiletries for Giving the Basics.
St. Ann students sort toiletries for Giving the Basics.

The holidays are a time when philanthropy and volunteering in Kansas City see an injection of enthusiasm from citizens struck by the desire to give back. But a program at St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village aims to help students learn to appreciate the joys of giving all year round.

Acts of Kindness — or AoK as it’s known around the school — tasks the elementary school’s classes, from kindergarten to sixth grade, with supporting non-profit projects over the course of the school year. Among the organizations the school supports are Ronald McDonald House, Operation Breakthrough, Lazarus House, Medical Missions, Soles4Souls, and Catholic Charities. Each grade is responsible for supporting two philanthropic causes.

Since launching in 2009, thousands of St. Ann students have participated.

“It’s all about St. Ann’s and community outreach,” said principal Mike Riley. “It’s student driven — it’s active engagement for the kids.”

Riley said that while many of the programs touch national issues — the program provides care packages for troops overseas, for example — there’s also a concerted effort to expose the kids to local issues.

“We have a Backpacks for Refugees program here that is close to home,” he said.

Kids this year have also focused on bringing in items for Giving the Basics, an organization that provides toiletries that aren’t covered by government assistance for low income individuals.