From the Milford Times
Milford, MI – May 10, 2007

By Jessie Ellis

Filling buckets isn’t really all that hard, the fifth graders at Spring Mills Elementary learned on Friday. All it really takes is kindness and respect for others.

Stacey Lundgren of Brighton-based came to the school to teach the fifth-graders the concept of bucket filling, or building others up with positive words and actions.

Lundgren’s 88-year-old father, Merrill, has been teaching the idea of bucket filling to adults for the past 20 years, and in the past 4 years he started spreading the concept in area schools.

“From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, everything you do is a choice,” Lundgren told the children.

On the classroom board she wrote “1996” — the year in which many of the children were born — followed by a dash. If you go into a cemetery and look at the tombstones, names are followed by a birth date and a death date separated by a dash, Lundgren explained.

“That dash is a choice,” she said. “If you work to fill other peoples’ buckets, it’s going to be a happy dash.”
Lundgren explained that there are two kinds of bucket filling: Everyday and intensive. Everyday actions are things like holding a door for someone, saying good morning or helping someone out who is having a bad day. Intensive bucket filling is one-on-one, telling someone how important and special they are.

The children participated in a role-playing activity that demonstrated how bucket filling works. When words or actions are used, it is called bucket dipping. The students took one day out of someone’s life and showed how bucket filling and bucket dipping works. Lundgren pointed out that these are all examples of everyday bucket filling.

Intensive bucket filling is much more emotional.
The students were asked to make a list of 10 items addressed to a mom or a dad on “Why I love and respect you.” The students then went around the room and each read four items from their list.

The students listed things like, “You make good food for me,” “You tuck me in at night” and “You make funny faces at me in the morning.”

The students are encouraged to add to the list throughout the day and then take the list home at night and read the list to their parent.

“This is eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart,” Lundgren said.

She told the students stories about other children who read the their list to their parents. Merrill Lundgren got a call from one mother thanking him. Her son read his list to her, and she said she cried for half an hour. It came on the heels of a bad day. His list of reasons why he loves and respects her came at just the right time.

The mom called Lundgren back again a week later. Because her son made the list, he inspired his father to make one, too. He read it to her at dinner time, and she said she cried for two hours.

“I knew he loved me,” she told Stacey Lundgren’s father, “but I never knew why.”

“There’s a ripple affect that is powerful and important,” Lundgren said.

Just one week ago Lundgren was giving a presentation at another school when she had an extremely moving experience. One little boy was new to the school, his father had recently died and the family had been homeless for a little while. He asked to make his list to his late father. The boy wrote and wrote and wrote, Lundgren said, and with incredible detail. She asked him to share his entire list with the class.

“They were such touching things,” she said. “Like he said, ‘I loved when we watched TV on the couch together and you put your arm around me and told me you loved me.’ I looked around the class and there were so many kids crying, especially the boys. They really touch each others hearts. It was very powerful.”

The children were happy to hear that their parents had homework, too. After the list is read to them they must write a response that the children must turn in. Many of the parent responses are posted on the Bucketfillers web site.

The Bucketfillers program is also used as an anti-bullying tactic. Lundgren left some forms to report bullying activities. Finally, Lundgren placed a lid on her demonstration bucket.

“It’s your bucket,” she told the kids, “keep it full. It’s up to you to have a happy dash.”