"Project Gratitude" brings signs of support to South Shore Hospital
At Saint Paul School in Hingham, students and parents alike are often taught to “think outside the box" when it comes to learning. After all, school isn't just about handouts and computers – especially during these tumultuous times.
So when preschooler Braden Hussey told his mother Janelle that he wanted to start “Project Gratitude" to say thank you to the healthcare workers in his area, she knew that her son was on to something.
“Braden talks a lot about being grateful," said Hussey. “Recently he's been talking about how grateful he is that his father and I can be home with him during these times, and that healthcare workers are out here on the front lines ready to take care of us all."
Braden decided he would make a sign to show the men and women of South Shore Health just how grateful he was.
He got out his crayons and markers and went to work, but he didn't want to stop there. “Project Gratitude" (a phrase coined by the preschooler) was much bigger than that; it was an idea he wanted to share with others.
That's when he enlisted the help of his mother to reach out to all families of Saint Paul's, a pre-K to eighth grade school with strong traditions and values, and deep-rooted ties to the community.
“These kids are no strangers to 'give back' projects," Hussey continued. “They often participate in food and clothing drives for charities such as Father Bill's and Mainspring. So I knew Braden's idea could be something the whole school could get behind. I reached out to Principal Fasano and she was on board, so all I needed to do was coordinate the effort."
Hussey ran with the project, emailing every family in the school system — and within 24 hours, she received 131 posters from 48 families, picking them up on doorsteps to maintain social distancing.
Her next step was to find a local printer who might be willing to donate some lawn signs to the cause. She figured maybe someone would have some misprinted signs that they could repurpose. So she began the process of cold-calling local printers to see who might be willing to help.
When she contacted Anchor Press in Norwell, not only did she find a printing company that would be willing to contribute, but the owner, Bill Files, also happened to be the husband of Peggy O'Neil Files, Manager of Spiritual Care at South Shore Health.
More than happy to donate his time, effort, and equipment to a cause that was near and dear to his heart, Files printed each student's poster on a new lawn sign (front and back) for the Hussey family to plant around the campus of South Shore Hospital.
On April 8, Janelle and Braden went to work. Joined by Jessica Symonds, Senior Director of the South Shore Health Foundation, the three of them dotted the Hospital campus with these homemade messages of inspiration and hope.
The exuberance and pride on Braden’s face was palpable as he stomped the signs into the ground with all his might.
“Project Gratitude" took hours of work, dozens of contributors, and countless acts of kindness to execute. It's the kind of “outside the box" learning that you just can't get in a classroom.
And when the job was done, mom took one last picture of her son standing in front of the McKim Family Main Entrance.
“I need this for the memory book," she said as he gave two thumbs up for the camera.