PEA RIDGE -- Lilly Whitlow put principle into practice, going above and beyond to bless some of her fellow students at Pea Ridge Middle School.
A sixth-grader, Lilly had earned money working for her grandmother in Florida recently.
"When I came back to school on Tuesday, there was a book fair," Lilly said, explaining that she stops in the special needs classroom daily to say hello to students. "I noticed they don't get much things, so I decided to take each one of them to the book fair and let them pick out anything they wanted, and I bought it for them."
"This week, it's been Book Fair Week," said Charity Fingerhut, library/media specialist at Pea Ridge Middle School Library. "It was also Read Across America Week and the culmination of one-book one-school novel. We read 'Out of My Mind' by Sharon Draper.
"It's been really rewarding to see them not only enjoying the book, but to take those things I wanted them to gain from that book and apply it to their life by showing kindness and empathy to people who might be a little different from them," Fingerhut said.
Saying she couldn't really isolate what prompted her, Lilly said, "All of them have a heart. They're no different than anybody else.
"They're all the same. I don't think about their disability -- we're all the same," Lilly said. She recalled a time another student was unkind to one of her friends in the special needs program and said she stood up to him and corrected him. She said it is important to care for one another. She said the lessons taught in the book proved her point about caring for others.
Lilly said her mom was super proud of her and told all of her family about it.
Mason Clinton, a friend, said Lilly did a good deed.
"Lilly came to book fair on Wednesday with one of our students with exceptionalities," she said. "I noticed she was buying that student a book. Then, she came back with another and another."
"She was helping them pick it out and being a good friend," Fingerhut said. "It was so sweet and special -- you can tell she genuinely cares about them."
The book is about a 10-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy who shares her thoughts, dreams and frustrations.
"We love that the one-book one-school book project that Mrs. Fingerhut worked so hard on -- 'Out of My Mind' -- that we can see it taking place in things that they learn," principal Mindy Bowlin said. "This is just one example of the great things she has done to help others that are different and unique from her."
Lilly, 12, is the daughter of Klassy and Michael Whitlow, granddaughter of the late John Erwin, Gratia Erwin and great-granddaughter of Judy Erwin. Other grandparents and great-grandparents are Sheryl Peters, David Peters, Susan Morrison, Eric Whitlow, Amanda Whitlow, Joyce Parson, Jim Parson, Kristal McCarty and Larry Smith.