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Spreading Kindness: 7th Grader Recognized For Epic Volunteer Effort Gathering School Supplies

CLEBURNE (CBSDFW.COM) - A 7th grade student from Cleburne ISD made it her job this year to supply students and teachers with the tools they need to get through the school day.

Paige Cook's simple gesture is now earning her state-wide recognition.

According to her teachers, Paige, 14 years old, is known as the Mary Poppins of school supplies.

When she walks into class, she can usually pull out of her bag anything a student or teacher needs.

The Wheat Middle School 7th grader began collecting pencils last summer, and presented 3,000 to teachers at a luncheon.

But she didn't stop there – Paige set a goal to provide seven pencils for every student in Cleburne ISD.

"We need pencils to write, and this can help the people who can't afford the school supplies," Paige explains.

Some 43,000 pencils later? Math teacher Allyson House is impressed.

"It's been crazy to watch her do this," House says.

Like many teachers, House is used to digging into her own pockets when students show up unprepared. Thanks to Paige, she no longer has to.

"It provides a stress-free environment. Our students can walk into the classroom and grab a pencil, no questions asked, and get to work," House says.

Paige Cook (credit: Wheat Middle School Pencil Pal Facebook page)

Through the Wheat Middle School Pencil Pals page on Facebook, Paige promotes her project. She receives donations of school supplies from all over the country, and even uses her own money to go out with her mother to make purchases.

This spring, Paige was named a Distinguished Finalist in Texas, in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, recognizing youth volunteers from across the state.

"The whole gym was chanting her name. They were all just so proud," Mrs. House says of the student body's reaction to Paige's award.

Paige has also been invited to apply for recognition in the Governor's Volunteer Awards program and the First Lady's Rising Star Award, recognizing extraordinary contributions of Texans under age 18 to their communities.

Born with a hearing impairment, Paige credits her teachers with giving her the confidence to overcome obstacles. She loves school and is an avid reader.

"They've been so kind to me," Paige says.

That's what motivates her to take on all this extra work. Paige Cook has a motto, as simple and essential as the pencils she collects: "Kindness starts with you, and me."

"My teachers taught me to believe in myself and be who I want to be," she says.

Paige is now planning to set up a "Kindness Closet" at her school, where students and teachers can choose from a range of supplies they may need. Her pencil program is continuing as well.

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