By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
NEVADA — They aren’t powered by Kryptonite, they don’t wear masks and when they jump in the air, they don’t fly. And they don’t rescue victims of nasty bad guys. These superheroes are powered by big, eager hearts, they are known to family, friends and neighbors, and all 18 walk and skip to rescue others from the doldrums by performing random acts of kindness. They are the Nevada Superheroes of Kindness from St. Mary’s Preschool.
Kindness comes in all sizes, much like these 4 and 5 year old superheroes. It can be as large as feeding hundreds of people who might otherwise go hungry, and as small as singing to entertain older folks at a senior center. And kindness spreads to envelop everyone in its path.
The concept of the Superheroes of Kindness was born in 2009 after Krystal Burns, a preschool teacher in Missoula, Mont. read “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?,” a book written in 2006 by Carol McCloud about spreading kindness and filling others’ buckets. Filling others’ buckets means saying or doing something loving or kind, including a heart-felt smile, helping without being asked, showing respect or giving someone a sincere compliment. She got her students, and the following year, the whole school, interested in doing random acts of kindness to others each week.
Early last year, Phil Bures, supervisor at the Franklin P. Norman Community Center in Nevada, Mo., more than 1,500 miles away from Missoula, learned about the Superheroes project on the Internet and wanted to start something similar. He quickly got in touch with Burns and through “countless emails, questions and pep talks, got the Nevada Superheroes organized. She also gave permission for us to use the Superheroes of Kindness name.”
It took a while, but soon after school began last fall, Megan Murphy, a first year preschool teacher at St. Mary’s School, agreed to pilot the program. While they were planning the mission of the Nevada Superheroes of Kindness, Bures realized “you can not be a Superhero without a cape.”
He contacted Erica Skouby, owner of Nine Patch Quilt and Fabric, about the Superheroes, and she willingly donated the fabric and thread for their capes. Skouby told The Catholic Key, “I love kids and any time we can get them to think outside the box and outside of themselves at such a young age, I wanted to be a part of encouraging that!”
The fabric and quilt shop is a small business Skouby started six years ago. “Donating fabric for 20 capes was quite a sacrifice,” she said, “but when I quit my engineering job to open this shop, I asked the Lord to show me ways that I could be in mission for Him and He continues to bring opportunities to me. I saw this as one more opportunity, and it was so much fun picking out the fabrics that I thought the kids would like. Some came from the store; some came from my own personal stash of fabrics at home. Some I had been saving for something special, but I had no clue what until Phil needed capes!”
He took the fabric to the staff at the Nevada Community Center, who cut out and sewed the capes.
Bures presented Murphy’s class with the capes on Dec. 5. In the blog he had started about the project, missourisuperheroesofkindness.blogspot.com, he wrote, “Today I got to meet the new Superheroes and read them the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud, which explains to them how to spread kindness and be a bucket filler. They all seemed to grasp the concept and were ready to put on their capes and spread kindness.”
Murphy said, “They love their capes. They get really excited when we talk about being kind, being friends to each other.”
Their first mission of bucket filling was a visit to Skouby.
Bures made a plaque complete with photographs of the caped Superheroes to show their appreciation for the fabric. “The Superheroes paid me a visit to thank me for donating the fabric,” she said. “They were awesome.” Skouby was “thrilled to see some of my United Methodist kids in the group! Children learning together, working on projects together, growing together, and spreading kindness together. If only we adults could do the same!
“The Superheroes sang a couple of Christmas songs for me and I think they would have stayed and sang to me for an hour if their teacher had let them. They knew all kinds of songs. Some of them told me they had special quilts … Those children brought me great joy during the Christmas season and all I did was donate a little bit of fabric for capes. I have my Superhero Appreciation plaque hanging so everyone can see it.”
Skouby said, “I hope they find many opportunities to wear those capes and spread kindness and I hope that one day Phil will call and tell me he needs more capes because as far as I am concerned, there can’t be enough Superheroes in this world!”
They also visited the Neal Senior Center and sang Christmas carols for the folks there.
The Nevada Superheroes of Kindness plan to set out twice a month to spread compassion and random acts of kindness around Nevada. “We will be able to do more when it warms up a bit,” Murphy said.
Catholic School Week was celebrated Jan. 30-Feb. 3 this year, and the Superheroes colored and decorated Thank You cards to St. Mary Parish for all the parishioners do for the school and the Superheroes.
Bures said that during the February town council meeting, Mayor Brian Leonard plans to read a proclamation on the Superheroes. The week of Valentine’s Day also celebrates random acts of kindness, which the Superheroes plan a lot of, he said.
Bures said the Superheroes program teaches kids to be better people. “When the townspeople see these kids in their superhero capes, it brings on an automatic smile. The kids will remember those smiles and how it feels to be a good person, and make others feel good. It can’t help but make the city a better place to live.”