Archive for Thursday, December 4, 2008

Liberal schoolchildren raise funds for Linwood shooting victim

December 4, 2008

— Right around Thanksgiving every year, McKinley School kindergarten teacher Nancy Scott tries to teach her students a lesson about being thankful and giving something back.

This year, Scott was able to use the story of a Linwood girl to teach the importance of sharing.

Scott said before each Thanksgiving, she and her class read the children’s book “Stone Soup,” which fits the students’ celebration of Thanksgiving.

“The kids bring in vegetables and soups of different kinds, and we mix it in a great big pot. It’s really good,” she said. “No matter what kind they bring, no matter what it is, it always turns out good.”

The second part of this year’s lesson centers on Katherine Cook, a 5-year-old girl from Linwood who was shot in an incident while playing in her family’s backyard on Feb. 23.

Scott read pieces of a Lawrence Journal-World story to the students. The story hit home.

“She’s their age,” Scott said. “She’s in kindergarten. They really related to her. They wanted to do something for her.”

The McKinley students made pictures to give to Cook, and Scott said she had the children begin filling a jar with change to give to the Linwood youngster.

“They started bringing dollar bills, then they started bringing fives and 10s trying to fill the jar up for this little girl,” she said. “She’s got a lot of medical expenses. She has six other brothers and sisters, so you know the money is tight.”

Scott said after reading the Oct. 19 article, she and the class talked about how thankful they were about simple things, including the ability to get up every day and go to school.

“We could walk to school,” she said. “We could see when we got there. Our hands worked. We could write, and we could color. We just need to be thankful at this time of the year that we are a whole person and functioning good.”

On Feb. 23, the Cooks and their seven children, who were living in Oswego at the time, planned on spending the weekend remodeling a home they had recently purchased on the outskirts of Linwood.

Katherine was playing outside with two of her brothers, while her parents worked inside the house. She was standing on a lower deck, near a large brick retaining wall, when a stray bullet struck her in the head. The bullet remains in her skull, but Katherine has made remarkable progress. Early this fall, she began attending school at Linwood Elementary, while still fitting in therapy sessions in Kansas City, Mo. No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the shooting that injured Katherine.

Scott said the money collected by her students could help out in so many ways.

“Even if it was a trip to McDonald’s for her whole family, they probably don’t get to do that much,” she said. “A toy or some gasoline. She goes to therapy in Kansas City, Mo., once a week. We just thought any little bit would help their family.”

Scott said the class has collected $53.50 so far.

“We’ll finish it off closer to the Christmas holiday,” she said. “Then we’ll get her the money. We could get more money.”

The Cook family does not yet know about the money being gathered in Liberal — nearly 400 miles away.

Scott said the lesson is a good one for her students.

“The kids would talk about the little girl,” she said. “They ask questions. When I get to talk to the mom and dad, maybe the little girl can send my kids pictures, and maybe share back and forth with her parents. It just gave them something really good to think about.”

Scott said she hopes this will be the beginning of a lifetime of helping for the McKinley students.

“I think it will carry through when they get to high school,” she said. “They have to do so many volunteer hours.”

— Robert Pierce is a reporter with the High Plains Daily Leader newspaper in Liberal.

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