Jimmy Willerton painted a wooden star as a message of hope after a tornado devastated his hometown of Joplin, Mo. last year.
That gave the high school freshman an idea: why not pay it forward and bring the stars of hope to the people of Minot, the site of last summer's devastating flood?
As part of his Eagle Scout project, Willerton brought 100 wooden stars painted with inspirational messages by people in Joplin to Minot. A troop of Minot Boy Scouts will help him hang the wooden stars this week in flooded areas of Minot and Burlington. Willerton said a lot of materials for his Eagle Scout project were donated by businesses such as Lowe's and Home Depot.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • From left to right, Abby Glosenger, 8, her mother, Julie Glosenger, and sister Nikki Glosenger, 6, paint stars of hope on Thursday at Minot State University.
People in Minot are also painting wooden stars to be hung in the flood area as part of a separate project.
"They can paint whatever they want," said Willerton's mother, Rikki Smith. "It's incredibly healing for the children."
On Thursday people painted the stars on the lawn in front of Minot State University's Old Main. Today, children at Longfellow will be painting stars of hope and people will also have an opportunity to paint the wooden stars today in Oak Park
Willerton and Smith were among a number of volunteers from Joplin, Mo., and elesewhere, who are in Minot this week helping with the Stars of HOPE community art project and other activities sponsored by the New York Says Thank You Foundation in partnership with Groesbeck Rebuilds America.
Nationwide, Stars of Hope has planted more than 8,000 stars so far.
Projects have occurred in hurricane ravaged Galveston, Texas, in 2008; tornado-stricken Mena, Ark., in 2009; Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Little Sioux, Iowa, in 2009 after multiple tornadoes; Fort Hood, Texas, in 2010 after the shooting of soldiers; and Joplin, following a tornado in 2011.
The activities are sponsored by the New York Says Thank You Foundation, the Hope Village and local organizations. The events are in commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and are intended to bring physical and emotional healing to the community.
Willerton, who turns 15 next month, will present his Eagle Scout project to a panel on Tuesday. Smith said the date, Sept. 11, seems especially significant.
Julie Glosenger brought her daughters Abby, 8, and Nikki, 6, to the ceremony at MSU on Thursday and helped the girls paint messages on their wooden stars.
The family moved to Minot last year on the day the flood hit and both girls still remember the flood, said Glosenger, who home schools the children. She said she was using the activities as part of a history lesson about the events of Sept. 11, an event that took place years before the girls were born.