ANDERSON — About this time last year, all the students, staff and Meridian Health Services partners at COMPASS alternative school engaged in a building-wide Day of Gratitude that included random acts of kindness, neighborhood service projects and making dog treats for an animal shelter.

Now in its second year, the event will be bigger and better thanks to a $1,000 Prairie Farms Grant distributed by the Anderson Education Foundation.

“It means more for the kids. The opportunity for them to go out in the community and impact the community means more for them than for us because they don’t get a lot of those opportunities,” said COMPASS’s dean of students, Kyle Douglas, who wrote the grant proposal.

This year’s event will include delivering flowers to nurses, watching the movie, “Pay It Forward,” and a special Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 26 for students and staff.

“We don’t get to see their faces light up that much. That inner voice of doing good, they don’t get to experience that, that often,” Douglas said.

He was one of four educators at COMPASS and one of 43 in Anderson Community Schools who received visits Friday from Anderson Education Foundation Executive Director Kay Bale and a couple of foundation board members as they made the rounds to distribute the grants. This is the first time, Bale said, that each ACS school received at least one grant.

Anderson Elementary School’s staff received the most grants, with AEF funding 10 projects.

“The principal really encouraged his teachers to go after every opportunity, and they responded,” Bale said.

The foundation this year distributed just under $35,000 in increments ranging from $263 to $1,000 for a variety of projects. They include a penny whistle club by Sarah Ralston at Anderson Intermediate School, “Prototyping with 3D Pens” by Brandon Bailey and Grant Garber at Highland Middle School and “Classroom Capitalism” with Emily Caldwell at Anderson High School.

“We’re just the vehicle. A lot of your teachers support us,” Bale said.

COMPASS’s Principal Kristal McCorkle said the grant for the Day of Gratitude was crucial to the ability to make it happen.

“This is my favorite day of the year. It’s probably what the kids remember most,” she said. “We weren’t sure if we would be able to swing it.”

No stranger to earning AEF grants, McCorkle also received $250 in partial funding for a free little library that will be built by students. Previously, she received a $1,000 grant for the school’s therapy dog, Oscaar, one of the first such dogs in an Indiana school.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB,

or call 765-640-4883.

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