Londyn Lindsay and her Indomitable Spirit
DECEMBER 17, remedy 2014 –Kimmel Farm third-grader Collects Coats for Homeless Students
By Kim Underwood
A while back, there Londyn Lindsay and her mother, Sherise, came upon a mother and boy who looked as if they might be homeless.
Londyn’s mother gave the boy’s mother some money. Londyn and her mother had just been to Pizza Hut, and Londyn was carrying a container of leftover pizza. She offered the pizza to the boy, who accepted it gratefully and began eating right away.
That got Londyn, who is now a third-grader at Kimmel Farm Elementary School, thinking about what more she could do to help homeless children. Those thoughts blossomed into Covering Our Kids, a project to gather coats for young people.
In a piece that Londyn wrote about starting the program, she said that, after giving the boy the pizza, she felt so good that she “wanted to do something bigger – something nicer. So I came up with Covering Our Kids.”
Londyn started by pulling some coats that she had outgrown from her own closet. Family members contributed coats. So did people at their church – Brooks Temple United Methodist Church – and at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, where Sherise Lindsay works.
One of Londyn’s friends at Rural Hall Elementary School was so eager to donate her own coat that she kept flexing her arm muscles in an effort to convince her mother that the coat was getting too small. Whenever a coat came to Londyn, she imagined the child it would go to and hoped “they might be very blessed by it.”
In recent days, Londyn brought in some coats to Kimmel Farm and turned them over to Clarissa Felder, one of the school’s guidance counselors. This morning, Londyn and her parents, Tony and Sherise, brought more. So did Londyn’s godmother, Tanya Neal, who is a guidance counselor at Glenn High School, and a couple of staff members at Kimmel Farm. There to accept all the coats was Melissa Ledbetter, the school system’s homeless liaison. Ledbetter works with Project HOPE, a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools program that helps students who are homeless.
“Thank you so much,” Ledbetter said.
At the moment, Ledbetter said, Project HOPE is serving about 170 students. Of those, 127 are students in the school system. The others are those students’ younger siblings. When Ledbetter and Londyn’s father counted the coats, the total came to 20. “We are just proud of her for having this initiative and having the drive to stick with it,” Tony Lindsay said. “Londyn has always been very supportive of others,” her mother said. “She certainly has an angel’s heart.”
Neal said, “I told Londyn that my expectation is this is just the beginning.”
Londyn knows for sure that she wants to do more for students who are homeless. She doesn’t yet know for sure what that might be. One possibility that she and her mother have talked about is to collect toothpaste and other toiletries at Easter and put them in baskets with some candy.
During the holidays, students at Kimmel Farm are reaching out in other ways as well. On Friday, the students in Rebecca Montes de Oca’s fifth-grade class are going Mallard Ridge Assisted Living in Clemmons to sing holiday carols, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells.”
“This was their idea,” Montes de Oca said.
When the students sing “Jingle Bell Rock,” two students – Sydney Witt and Devan Renney – will dance.
Londyn is one of many students in the school system helping students who are homeless during the holidays and other times during the year. In October, students at East Forsyth Middle School, Ledbetter said, gave the month a new name – Socktober – and collected 132 pairs of socks. When Whitaker Elementary School celebrated its 60th anniversary in October, students collected food to donate to Project HOPE. At the Career Center, students and staff set up an Angel Tree and committed to buy presents for students who are homeless. A teacher there collected blankets.
And throughout the school system, students have been participating in such projects as the Samaritan Ministries penny campaign and various food drives.
School is about much more than just academics, Felder said, and everything that students such as Londyn are doing shows that students understand the importance of compassion and caring. “Children are reaching out to other children,” she said.
Today is a big day for Londyn. After giving the coats to Ledbetter, she headed to her classroom to check in with her teacher, Rebecca Gregory, before heading off to represent her class in the school spelling bee. Friday is Londyn’s ninth birthday. To avoid the holiday parties and other hullabaloo that will come with Friday being the last day before holiday break, her parents brought in the birthday cupcakes to share with her classmates today.
Londyn has blossomed this year, Sherise Lindsay said, and she made a point to give Gregory credit for helping make that happen by making Londyn feel more self-confident.
“She has been great,” Tony Lindsay said.
Londyn is up to all sorts of things. She loves to sing. She sings in a choir at church and dances with the church’s dance ministry. She takes taekwondo after school with TRU Taekwondo and has earned her yellow belt.
Londyn has three older brothers. “It’s a horrible thing, I tell you,” she said and laughed.
At the moment, her list of careers she is considering has two possibilities. One is becoming a doctor. Another is becoming a teacher. “I want to help other kids,” she said.