People & Places

Mount Vernon preschool students paint Stars of Hope

Decor meant to brighten disaster-hit communities

Carly Bock (3) paints a wooden star at United Methodist Church preschool in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Monday, November 30, 2015. a student paint a wooden star at United Methodist Church preschool in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Monday, November 30, 2015. The finished Stars of Hope will be mailed to and displayed in a community that is recovering from a tragedy. The project was started as a way for kids outside the impacted area to connect with their peers in an expression of solidarity and hope. Community leaders hang the stars from light poles, fence posts, trees, and other landmarks that are significant to the area. (Rebecca F. Miller/Freelance for The Gazette)
Carly Bock (3) paints a wooden star at United Methodist Church preschool in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Monday, November 30, 2015. a student paint a wooden star at United Methodist Church preschool in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Monday, November 30, 2015. The finished Stars of Hope will be mailed to and displayed in a community that is recovering from a tragedy. The project was started as a way for kids outside the impacted area to connect with their peers in an expression of solidarity and hope. Community leaders hang the stars from light poles, fence posts, trees, and other landmarks that are significant to the area. (Rebecca F. Miller/Freelance for The Gazette)
/

MOUNT VERNON — In 2007, tragedy came to Greensburg, Kan.

“This little town in Kansas was 95 destroyed by an E-F5 tornado,” said Janeve West, an associate professor of theater at Cornell College, who is a native of Greensburg.

As she drove around town, she said she noticed “little beautiful stars” made out of wood and painted with words such as hope, faith and family.

West learned the stars were put there by volunteers organized by Jeff Parness, founder and chairman of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which was developed after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The goal is for the stars to “help them rebuild, help them find hope, help them come together again,” she said.

Since 2007, children, adults and organizations have painted the stars and either kept them within their communities or sent them elsewhere. Greensburg children in 2011 painted stars and sent them to Sendai, Japan, after that community was hit by a tsunami.

West received a box of materials to make the stars from her mother, Janet, who still lives in Greensburg. She told Denise White, director of the Mount Vernon Community Preschool, about the program and asked if the school would be interested in participating.

“We’re getting into the holiday time, and we’ve been talking to the children about being thankful for things,” White said. “We’ve been really talking a lot about what it means to give thanks and this just kind of partnered with that.”

West said she still is deciding where to send the Mount Vernon childrens’ stars.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“What I love about the Stars of Hope is that it encourages the smallest one, the children, to consider how they can be involved in either the rebuilding of their community or another community,” she said.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.