The annual Holy Family Elementary Race for Education, originally scheduled for Friday, April 24th, looks a bit different this year as the students have moved to offsite education. Customarily, this operational fundraiser challenges students to run laps to earn pledges in support of the school.

But with the onset of the COVID-19 virus, the school got creative.

Upon Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s Executive Order 20-07, which closed Kansas schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, the planning committee for the Race for Education pulled together and adapted the traditionally successful fundraiser from the Race for Education into the Race for Kindness.

Solicitations for the Race for Kindness fundraiser were sent to family and friends of Holy Family students, both local and worldwide, to sponsor students performing acts of kindness for others.

“At a time when there are changes everyday due to COVID-19, we needed something that would work with social distancing. We ourselves needed a glimmer of hope. The kindness concept fits perfectly with our race motto of No matter where life’s race takes you, faith takes you further, and so we developed the idea,” said Race for Education committee member Tina Herrman.

“The community has always shown support for our school, and now we have a great way to give back and support our community. The students are spreading joy and kindness, especially now when we need God’s light and hope. We’ve even posted some of the acts of kindness on the school’s Facebook page so supporters can view from afar,” added Herrman.

Holy Family Elementary, located adjacent to Vine St. in Hays, has added the words “Hope” and “Kindness” to the fence alongside its property. Each student is challenged to add six designated acts of kindness to the fence written on colorful strips of paper.

Once completed, the fence stands to represent over 2000 generous acts of kindness in a world experiencing isolation both physically and emotionally. That is how kindness creates hope, as the message on the fence proclaims.

The Holy Family Elementary Race for Education is a primary funding opportunity for Holy Family Elementary and the joint operating budget of Hays Catholic Schools, which includes Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr./Sr. High School.

“Race for Education is an essential fundraiser for our school’s general operations. There is immense pride each year when students, along with parents, volunteers, and staff members, run their laps to raise money for the school,” said Holy Family Elementary Principal, Rachel Wentling.

“When we realized this format would not be possible this spring, the committee brainstormed the ‘Race for Kindness’ idea, and I gave the green light immediately. I hope this may be a permanent improvement to our annual Race for Education,” added Wentling. "I had no idea how much our acts of kindness would evangelize our mission, that we are Christ to one another. It has been a blessing to watch it all unfold."

“I was so pleased to contribute. Changing the race from education to kindness is exactly what is needed for what we are going through,” said Holy Family Elementary grandmother, Sherrill Ruda. “The virtue of kindness gives the students an opportunity to be the loving embrace of God to their neighbors.”

Holy Family Elementary’s Principal Rachel Wentling can be reached at for contributions toward the school's Race for Kindness, or at 1800 Milner St., Hays, KS 67601.

Holy Family Elementary serves preschool-6th grades. As a parochial school of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Holy Family Elementary is a part of the Heartland Parishes stewardship mission providing every child the opportunity for a Catholic education centered on the teachings of Christ.