Middle school students in Wisconsin aim to show age-related peers that “strangers care”

Pictured from left to right: (front row) Kendyl Havens, Lily Keepman, Tess Karnowski; (middle row) Jenna Gilbert, Katie Parham, Maya Karnowski, Lori Findlay, Sydney Miller and Elena Kadow; (back row) Audrey Broege, Lindsey Smith and Alyssa King

By Lori Findlay, advisor and teacher at Silver Lake Intermediate School

Oconomowoc, WI – Many schools offer volunteer opportunities for students to get involved with at their school. The Service Learning Club at Silver Lake Intermediate School has taken their goodwill to the next level and has reached out within their community to help serve the young patients at Rogers Memorial Hospital.

This group of middle school students have supplied 36 boxes to the hospital, boxes filled with items to used as coping skills. The items include journals, small puzzles, activity/coloring books, card games, stress balls, silly putty, markers/crayons and Rubik’s cubes. In order to purchase these items, members of the club raised money by selling candy at a school dance, donations from SLI’s student council, and the 8th grade students donated money during the month of May for Mental Health Awareness month.

Students collected shoe boxes, and then wrapped and decorated each one with inspirational and encouraging verses. The final step was packing each box with the engaging gifts. Lori Findlay, adviser of the club says, “The moment the kids saw all these boxes filled really impacted the students. They were looking at all the boxes and realized that the patients at Rogers really need something like this. The patients need to know people care about them and that even strangers want to do something to make their stay even just a little easier.”

Tess Karnowski, an 8th grade leader in the club, used this project as the vehicle to earn her Silver Award for Girl Scouts. She says, “I think that this project will make their days a little better. It’s not going to change them in a day, people change slower than that. But my goal was to make them feel appreciated, wanted, and loved by someone they didn’t know.”

Kendyl Havens in fifth grade says, “You can be the change in someone’s day. Hard work is worth it, you can change the world one person at a time.”


A “Give for a Better Day” coping skills drive, held in conjunction with your business, school or civic organization, is an excellent way to help patients at Rogers fill their emotional toolkits with small, but effective, therapeutic items.

Not sure where to start? Download the MyRogers Community Sponsored Event Proposal Packet.

Questions? Contact Laura Miller at lmmiller@rogershospital.org or go to MyRogers for more details.