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Pictured are students who participated in the Math-A-Thon for to raise funds for St. Jude, as part of Anderson’s Kindness Club.

RENSSELAER — Local children’s author and Van Rensselaer Elementary School teacher Shannon Anderson’s Kindness Club recently raised $1,800 for St. Jude Children’s Research hospital.

Anderson said the mission of her Kindness Club, made up of local elementary students, is simply “to spread kindness and serve others.”

“The kids actually meet during lunch/recess time on various days,” she said, “so they are making a sacrifice to come to my room to eat and meet instead of going out and play.”

The club’s first act of service was to raise money for the young patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The hospital’s mission is to help children fight catastrophic diseases, such as cancer.

“I showed them a video of a cancer patient’s story,” Anderson said. “The kids were so compassionate about the little girl with no hair and the hard times her family were going through.”

In order to raise funds for the hospital, Anderson’s group participated in St. Jude’s Math-A-Thon event. The hospital’s website said this is intended to “help students refine their academic skills while teaching them that they have the power to help others.”

In order to participate in the Math-A-Thon, the students asked for pledges in exchange for completing all of the math problems in a math book provided by the hospital.

“The money goes to support the costs of running the hospital,” Anderson said. “No patients are charged at St. Jude. They operate on donations and fundraisers like this one.”

To pull off the fundraiser locally, Anderson had her kids come together in one room at one time to help each other get it done.

“We picked a day in October where the kids came in, ready to crunch numbers and eat some snacks,” Anderson said. “They spread out around the room and set to work. No complaints and no excuses.”

The students spent a full hour answering all of those math problems, either individually or with a buddy.

Not only did the kids raise an impressive amount of money, their kindness was inspired or aided by members of their families.

“One of our students, Owen Hege, raised over $500 all by himself,” Anderson said. “I had another student share that her mom was saving her waitressing tips for this. Still another, who lost a sibling to disease at a young age, made a special donation.”

Anderson was impressed by the kindness and compassion shown by the club so far this year.

“These kids put their hearts into this project when they went out asking for pledges to support this cause,” she said. “I’m so proud that they not only wanted to do it, but did it with such compassion. I can’t wait to see what else this sweet group of kids will do this year.”

More information about the hospital can be found at

More information on Anderson can be found at

Any other local teachers who would like to inform the community about their projects are encouraged to send an email to, or call 219-866-5111 and ask for “Nick.”