Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SIX MILLION PAPER CLIPS: The Making of a Children's Holocaust Memorial

This has got to be one of my favorite inspirational books!

SIX MILLION PAPER CLIPS: The Making of a Children's Holocaust Memorial shows what a small southern community can do to make a difference in this world.

Whitwell, TN 
Population: 1600
Percentage of non-whites - 3
Number of Jews, Catholics, and Muslims - 0

Whitwell Middle School Principal, Linda Hooper wanted to prepare her students for the real world. For people who are different from them.  For the likelihood that eventually they will experience intolerance or rejection.

So in 1998, Hooper and her staff initiated a voluntary after-school class for students and parents.  The subject was the Holocaust.  As students learned about the deaths of millions of Jews they tried to grasp the numbers.  How many was 6 million anyway?

They decided to find out by collecting 6 million of something.  But what?

As it turned out, paperclips were the perfect symbol because during the Hitler era the non-Jews of Norway wore paperclips to protest the deportation of Jews.  And so the collection began.

One paperclip led to another until eventually this tiny town became the home of The Children's Holocaust Memorial - an authentic German boxcar with 6 million paperclips.

But it led to so much more. Millions more paperclips for one thing.  Visits from Holocaust Survivors for another.  And best of all, a change of attitudes as students began treating each other differently.  Schools from other places come to visit.  Some are starting similar projects with Whitwell students as their inspiration and as their support.

Here's a trailer for PAPER CLIPS, a documentary about the project.

You'll want to get your hands on both the book and the movie! I promise. And who knows? Maybe you'll start your own monumental project!