How the Grinch shared Christmas: DES students spread kindness

Savannah Vasquez
DES RAKK club members Brighton Watson, Erik Scott, Lilly Rudd and Garrett Jacobs fundraising last week for the Grinch PJ drive.

Every morning for the last month, as students arrive for school at Destin Elementary they are met by neon signs reading, “Vote Here, 50 cents: Cop vs. Boss.” The signs are held by third and fourth grade students who are part of the Random Acts of Kindness Kids (RAKK) club. Their goal? To raise money for children in need by pitting Principal Al Gardner against OCSO Deputy Sonya Shepard in a contest for who will dress up as the Grinch on the last day of school before the Christmas break. Whoever gets the most votes and raises the most money will don the green costume and hand out candy canes to all the students in the school during lunch.

The RAKK club got its start this school year with fourth grader Erik Scott. For years he and his sister were challenged by their mother to carry out random acts of kindness every Wednesday, and this year Erik wanted to include the entire school in the kindness scheme.

“I made them do random act of kindness on Wednesdays, we called them hump day challenges,” said Erik’s mother Tami Scott. “At the beginning of the school year he said, ‘Mommy let’s take this to the school so that everybody can do the hump day challenge.’” Thus the RAKK club was born.

When asked why he started the RAKK club at school, Erick said he just wants to help people.

“There’s a lot of people who are unfortunate in our lives and we want to help,” he said. “And whoever joined it we wanted to rub off on them and pay it forward.”

When asked how these service projects affect him and his classmates, Erik said all the kids at school love the projects and are eager to get involved.

“They tell me in a different way how they love it,” he said. “They say, ‘Oh yeah I’m going to be in it, it’s a really good idea.’”

But, Erik said the best part of serving others is the joy it brings.

“They make me feel very happy to see that smile on their face,” he said.

With just two weeks of fundraising complete, the young philanthropists have already raised $200 for other children in their school. Tami explained that the school counselor gathered a list of children in need with age, gender and favorite cartoon character and placed a card on an angel tree. From that tree, the RAKK club has been able to purchase PJ’s for 9 students so far and hopes to add more before next week’s PJ day event Thursday.

“We will turn around and buy PJ’s for kids because it is PJ day at the school, which is also the Grinch Day,” said Tami. “We have all the PJ’s purchased and we are going to combine them with donated books and DVDs for a big present for each kid in need at the school.”

The RAKK club has truly hit the ground running this year with 45 students participating in area service projects such as the Crop Drop, visiting nursing homes and now the PJ fundraiser.

“They just do nice things for people without any expectation of a reward,” Principal Al Gardner said of the club. “It’s a way for kids to develop a sense of, ‘Let’s do something nice for somebody, let’s help somebody a little less fortunate than ourselves.’”

To donate to the Grinch PJ Fund call Tami Scott at 850-687-1835.