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Community Outreach and Engagement Division


Bloomington students show they care with 1,000 paper cranes

Authored on
Bloomington Briefing Published August 4, 2021
Updated on August 24, 2021
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With more than 29,000 thoughtful folds, a group of Jefferson and Kennedy High School students made 1,000 paper cranes to show seniors they care with a special gift.

Tahm Loyd, a Jefferson High School junior, came up with the idea in February to give 1,000 paper cranes to a local assisted living center to show gratitude for what seniors have been through in the last year. Last month, the students who folded the cranes brought them to Martin Luther Campus. They gave some directly to residents, others were used in art installations for common areas on campus. 

“The idea of 1,000 paper cranes came from a Japanese myth that if you fold them a wish will be granted to  you,” Loyd said. “The myth is based on the story of a young girl who had leukemia in Japan after she was exposed at Hiroshima. She started to fold 1,000 paper cranes to try to cure herself, unfortunately she couldn’t finish but her classmates finished for her. Then it started to be something you would do when someone wasn’t feeling their best. You help fold 1,000 paper cranes for them to help them out in a hard time.”

The project started out small with Loyd, Nicole Guan, Amal Mohamed and a few more students folding together. As they folded more cranes, the students posted on social media about the project and recruited more people to their meetings.

“I was blown away by it all. It’s been a really hard year for our seniors; it’s no secret,” Martin Luther Campus Director of Community Relations Katie Blessing said. “But it’s also been a hard year for students—trying to navigate working remotely. To think that these students took the time, in addition to everything else they were trying to do this year to be successful, to think ‘what can I do for someone else’ was really meaningful.”

In addition to the joy of giving the gift of the cranes and recognition, students felt they received a gift as well. 

“Seeing seniors’ smiles and happiness, we didn’t only give a gift but we received a gift,” Amal Mohamed, Jefferson High School junior, said. “I think during COVID it’s really easy to be selfish and not really consider how  other people are struggling through this time. I hope this serves as an example to think about other people and step outside your shoes once in a while.”

To watch a video about the 1,000 paper cranes project, visit