Joe Anson has a special way of making children feel important. Every Wednesday, an area youth is celebrated as Kid of the Week. This program started in July 2022, stemming from the already successful Veteran of the Week.
“I saw where kids were doing a lemonade stand to raise money for this or that,” Anson said. “I thought, let’s recognize a kid and make them feel good.”
Through Kid of the Week, local youth are honored for recent acts of kindness. During the colder months, a ceremony is held at Creston Art’s art center, where kids are presented with a T-shirt, a personalized sign made by Anson and a Kid of the Week yard sign. During the warmer months, kids are surprised at their homes with this ceremony.
“I invite the firemen, the policemen, the EMTs. Everyone’s welcome to come,” Anson said. “Felix the panther, he’s in hibernation for the winter, but once we start getting better weather, Felix will be there too. That brings the school more involved with it.”
After eight months of honoring kids, Anson said the program is continuing successfully.
“It’s doing really well,” Anson said. “We’re getting a better following, we just need to get more nominations and more sponsors if we can.”
Sponsorship is a new part of the Kid of the Week program. Originally, all costs were handled by Anson personally. However, people started to reach out wanting to help cover expenses.
“Someone said, ‘You need to start getting some sponsors,’ so I threw it out there and I’ve had some pretty good success,” Anson said. “Hy-Vee’s done it, individuals have done it. It’s been nice.”
A weekly sponsorship costs $35, while a monthly sponsorship is $175.
“We’ve had a few people sponsor for a month,” Anson said. “All the money goes right back into it. I’m spending almost $20 a shirt and then with the making of the plaque, I’m having $15 wrapped up in that. There’s no money going into my labor or something, that’s just the materials.”
Sponsorship is also welcome for the Veteran of the Week program, running from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“We sell “I support our veterans” shirts for $20 and half goes to the program,” Anson said. “Any donation is welcome. It costs $1,100 a year to do Veteran of the Week.”
Those looking to sponsor either program can contact Anson on Facebook via his personal page or the Kid of the Week page, “Inspired by Kid of the Week.” He’s hoping more people reach out to honor local youths for the program.
“This is something that the community has really embraced and I appreciate that a lot,” Anson said. “Don’t be afraid as a parent to message me and say, ‘Hey, my kid has done this.’ Maybe [your kid] does something at the store, holds the door open for the elderly, anything that you see as an act of kindness.”
This week’s Kid of the Week was Lizzie Sprague, someone whose kindness Anson has witnessed himself.
“I remember from when I worked as a janitor at the school,” he said. “She was there to help anybody and anything that needed done. She helped set up for band, she helped set up for archery... She’s got a heart of gold. She’s a great representative for what the Kid of the Week stands for.”
Overall, Anson said the Kid of the Week program has been great for local kids.
“Everyone of them has just been overwhelmed,” Anson said. “They love it, they appreciate it. I think it makes them want to go out and do more and that’s what we need. Instead of spreading the hate and bullying, let’s get the kindness and the caring out there more.”