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In 2015, hundreds of Rend Lake College First Year Experience (FYE) students brought joy to second grade classrooms across Southern Illinois by delivering Flat Stanley books as gifts over the holiday season.

This year, FYE students are back at it, brining Flat Stanley back to RLC for his sophomore year by taking up the monumental project again and creating nearly 500 personalized, Flat Stanley books for local students.

Flat Stanley is a project aiming to connect children around the world with others sending out “flat” visitors, paper dolls named Stanley and customized by the children. At RLC, college students will take the Flat Stanleys and use them document their lives on campus, ultimately creating a scrapbook-style memento that is then returned to the second grader.

The grade schoolers’ paper pals will be delivered to FYE students before Thanksgiving break. Then, over the course of the next several weeks, the college counterparts will take pictures of Flat Stanley around various parts of campus, allowing the second graders an opportunity to experience RLC without ever leaving their classroom.

After the books are completed, FYE students travel to the various Southern Illinois grade schools and to return the children’s Flat Stanleys and present the book that was created just for them as a special, holiday-season treat. College students then take time to answer the questions of the curious second graders, providing more information on where Flat Stanley was during various pictures and what being in college is all about.