Midland, MI

Floyd Elementary students were told to put a lid on it and for a good reason.  It wasn’t a new concept to the students, however, because they had read the book “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?” which taught them about filling their “buckets,” or lives, with kindness, love and respect, and closing their buckets off to negativity.

“Many times when people say something mean or nasty you can keep a lid on your bucket and handle it yourself by ignoring it or saying that it’s not very nice,” said guest speaker Stacey Lundgren. “You don’t have to dip back into their bucket.”

Stacey is the daughter of “The Bucket Man” Merrill Lundgren who in 1979 began BUCKETFILLERS.COM, INC., an educational organization to help people live happier and more meaningful lives. She spoke to several classes Friday about respecting oneself and others, by using two kinds of bucket filling: everyday and intensive. Everyday bucket filling includes random acts of kindness; while intensive goes beyond the norm.

In Curt Moses’ fifth-grade class, the activity Lundgren used to illustrate intensive bucket filling was to have students write letters to their mom, dad or guardian giving 10 reasons why they love and respect them.

“You say you love your parents, but how often do you tell them why,” she said.
Reasons for why students loved their parents ranged from, “I love it when you hold me tight when there seems like no hope” to “your meat loaf rocks.”
But how do individuals feel when their buckets are empty or “dipped” into, Lundgren asked.

“Sad, down in the dumps and disappointed,” Moses’ class responded.

Lundgren asked four volunteers to help put the concept into perspective. One student held a bucket filled with items, while some of her classmates dipped into it by making fun of her and hurting her feelings. But when the day was reversed, and students changed their attitudes, the bucket dippers became bucket fillers.

“It was pretty cool how we learned how to make people feel better and not hurt them,” said 11-year-old Joe Robbins.

After listening to the presentation, Joe said his goal is to fill at least one person’s bucket a day and more if he can.

For Lundgren and others involved with the concept of bucket filling, knowing students gained a new outlook from the presentation helps reaffirm why she does what she does.

“All of my life it’s been important for me to do something that makes a difference, so this immediate feedback is cool,” she said. “It’s good news in a world filled with bad news.”

It’s a concept that is quickly expanding and one that kids seem to grasp onto easily, Lundgren said. Treating others with the proper respect – physically, verbally and emotionally is the main message Lundgren wanted to get across, not just for students but for everyone.

“The reason I’m involved in this work is because it’s a way to change the world,” she said. “It’s so simple, but we don’t do it enough.”