Aubrey Blackmore is using her coronavirus pandemic experience as an avenue to bring joy to fellow Jamestown Public School students.
Aubrey, a first-grade student at Roosevelt Elementary School, has raised more than $900 to help provide books to every elementary level student in the Buffalo City.
"We came up with the idea in the middle of April after being home for a month," said Mindy Blackmore, Aubrey's mother. "Aubrey came downstairs and said she wanted to do something to help everyone in the world with COVID-19. We talked about how hard it might be to help everyone in the world but then started brainstorming what we could do to help her classmates feel joy during this time."
Originally the mother-daughter duo was only planning on raising enough money to purchase one new book for each student in Aubrey's first-grade classroom.
The internet had other plans.
"Aubrey and I sat down together, wrote a script and recorded a video on my Facebook page that day," Mindy said. "I really thought that I would end up making a book purchase to cover her goal, but our family and friends quickly responded and we had Roosevelt Elementary School covered by the end of the day."
In the video, Aubrey stated that in the event she was able to raise more than her original goal she would help bring joy to other children in Jamestown. A few days after that Aubrey had raised enough funds to buy books for all the students at three out of the five public elementary schools in Jamestown.
Then the story got some more exposure.
"We received a message and call from Warren Abrahamson who ran Aubrey's book drive on News Dakota and within days Aubrey had raised enough funds to cover the number of children at the elementary level in Jamestown," Mindy said.
Two of those people encouraging and supporting Aubrey were Roosevelt Principal Pat Smith and first-grade teacher Melissa Foster.
"Aubrey is a very caring little girl," Smith said. "She has taken this project very seriously. She and her mom came to me with the idea and I said 'what a kind thing to do so go for it.' All the students at Roosevelt are special and they show kindness daily. But Aubrey took this project to a huge level."
Mindy said she and Aubrey ordered the books from Scholastic Book Clubs. Some books available cost $1 and the club also runs a book of the week program. Mindy said once the funds had been donated, they began ordering the books, hoping to receive them all by the end of the school year.
On Tuesday, May 19, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Mindy and Aubrey were busy distributing the books to fellow JPS elementary students at Roosevelt Elementary. In the four-hour window, Aubrey handed out between 150 and 200 books.
"We're extremely proud of Aubrey and what she has achieved and the selflessness that she has shown," said Tom Blackmore, Aubrey's father. "I think it is a pretty inspirational story. You take one little kid who just wants to help others and is thinking about her community during the times that we are in - it is pretty awesome."
Tom and Mindy expressed gratitude to the Roosevelt staff and the Jamestown community for the support shown over the last month.
"Aubrey has also learned that doing something for others during challenging times can bring a lot of joy to everyone," Mindy said. "This small act of kindness has taught Aubrey that even at a young age her voice can have a huge impact. Her hope is that it encourages other children to do the same thing."