TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Jayna Sullivan and the Garrett Sands Kindness Project have been hard at work lifting up others through acts of giving. The generosity continued Thursday when the group delivered supplies to three Vigo county schools.
Jayna Sullivan started doing random acts of kindness in honor of her son, Garrett Sands, after he passed away. Sands was shot at a party and later died as a result of his injuries.
Sullivan says, "We do everything we can to help us all through this. It's not just me that is mourning Garrett. My whole family has suffered tremendously and so doing things positive helps us combat that pain."
Sullivan says she cannot buy anything for her son anymore so instead, she buys school supplies for others. She says her dining room was full of donated items before they were loaded up and delivered to the schools Garrett attended.
Three cars full of goods traveled around the south end of town. Each car had items for a specific school: Fuqua Elementary, Sarah Scott Middle and South Vigo High.
Sullivan says, "He (Garrett) was a person that when he did something, he did it with his whole heart and he took pride in every school that he went to."
Members of the Garrett Sands Kindness Project stopped at Fuqua first and met with Principal Mary Beth Harris. Harris shared her memories of Garrett with the group and commented on the work they were doing for the community.
"It is so rare to find a student with that genuine, good heart that when they stick out in your mind... I think pays tribute to Jayna as far as what she's doing, following his passing, to continue that legacy from his kind heart and I think it's a true reflection of him."
Sullivan explained how she and others picked out items for donation.
"We went shopping, we saw the backpacks on clearance. We saw that there was Lightning McQueen backpacks and I said this is just perfect. They are the ones Garrett would have picked out and we just knew we had to buy them all and we did."
"Tissues was a big thing for me. We hit every CVS in town to buy all of the tissues when I saw that they were reduced in price."
Sullivan said she bought some of the items on her own and money from a GoFundMe page covered the cost of other items. Family and friends also gathered supplies. They did this for close to two months.
The group presented the supplies to principals, counselors and teachers so they could distribute the items to students in need. The donations come at a time when many have already used or lost some of their school supplies.
Harris says, "At the beginning of the year, a lot of times, we are given donations because people in the community are so aware of our need but then as the year progresses on crayons are lost, pencils are broken or worn out, backpacks are lost and so this will help replenish those supplies as the year progresses."
Sullivan and the group swapped stories with staff at Sarah Scott and South Vigo, too.
Teacher Mike Goetschel taught Garrett for three years at South Vigo High School. He says Garrett taught him to appreciate the time he has with students.
"My time with Garrett was great. He was really the first student I actually connected with. Garrett's life just really enriched and elevated the rest of the class that he was a part of."
Many people at the schools note Sullivan's strength and leadership through a devastating and difficult time.
Harris says, "I think his (Garrett) kind heart came from her."
Counselor Michelle Tracy told Sullivan, "To watch you take your grief and turn it into something positive is a real testimony to your walk with the Lord and so that's awesome and that would make Garrett super happy."
Sullivan and the "G-Team" say they would like to collect more supplies for donation next year. The group is also working on other projects to spread kindness.
To learn more about the Garrett Sands Kindness Project visit this Facebook page.
- School supplies donated in honor of Garrett Sands
- Garrett Sands Kindness Project holds prom dress donation drive
- Tattoo shop honors Garrett Sands with special designs
- Garrett Sands Kindness Project adopts highway in Garrett's memory
- Funeral services Monday for Garrett Sands
- Garrett Sands vigil set for Thursday
- Garrett Sands Kindness Project Food drive
- Schools, churches, and assisted living facility receive dress donations thanks to Garrett Sands Kindness Project
- Salon offers free back to school haircuts in honor of Garrett Sands
- Vigo County Winter Salt and Sand Supplies