12,000 kindness letters sent to local students

A local group is trying to start the school year off right in the face of a hard fact: One out every four students report being bullied during the school year.

One way to prevent bullying is through acts of kindness. The Guess Anti-bullying Foundation and Paducah Bank worked to make sure every student in the Paducah and McCracken County area received a letter at the start of the year.

I went to Paducah Tilghman High School to see what the letters meant to a couple of students who opened them up on Wednesday. The letters are acts of kindness started by Susan Guess and her daughter. 

“Somebody in our community wrote a letter to you to tell you matter, you’re valued, that we care about you, that you should dream big,” Guess said.

Two boxes at Tilghman held about 850 letters, enough for every student. They’re delivering close to 12,000 to reach every student at a public or private school in the McCracken County area.

“It turned into a beautiful project of businesses, students, churches, all types of people from all ages that have taken the time to write letters to students,” Guess said.

It’s a surprise that gave students like senior Trevor Williams something to smile about.

“Honestly, it makes me really happy that they’re doing this. It’s just like, to give a letter to someone you don’t know, just trying to befriend them not berating them first thing,” Williams said.

Sophomore Mikel Askew says it was a nice surprise. He says he didn’t know what he was walking into when they called him into the classroom Wednesday.

“I mean, it feels kind of good, because I never had that done before. It feels good to be chosen,” Askew said.

“This world is going to be really negative if we don’t take an initiative to say something positive,” Williams said.

Junior Olivia Woods says it’s a really sweet thing for people to do.

“To go out of their way and write a letter to somebody that they don’t know, a kind letter to keep them strong,” Woods said.

A small gesture can make all the difference done through actions or a few words.

“I just really want them to have that moment where they know how much they’re valued,” Guess said.

Guess hopes students are encouraged to write letters in the spring for their school’s teachers and staff and that the community can take on these kindness letters for students next year.

The Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation is also working on creating a kindness mural at 3rd Street and Broadway Street in October. Kijsa Housman with MAKE Paducah is creating the design, and a local artist will paint it.

Guess says, with 12,000 students, they still need to finish a couple of letters for students. If you would like to help, you contact Guess at Susan@PaudcahBank.com or call her at Paducah Bank.

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