Wise beyond his years, 4-year-old Brayden Johnson, of Harrisonville, already has a pretty good understanding about the reason behind the holiday season.
Each year, the Johnson family finds a way to give back to their community during the holidays.
“We were in the car and was asking him and his sister what they wanted to do this season to help others, thinking they would pick something we have always done before–like adopt an angel off the tree or donate toys–something that we’ve always done,” Cathe Johnson said.
This year, her preschool son’s request was a little different than the rest: Make sure every grave at the Garden City and Harrisonville cemeteries have flowers.
“He popped in from the back seat and said, ‘I want to decorate all the graves that don’t have flowers,’” Cathe Johnson said.
A couple weeks passed as Cathe Johnson thought about the idea.
“I kind of just tabled it from there, but the more I got to thinking about it, I thought it might be worth something looking into,” Cathe Johnson said. “My parents had taken them to the cemetery this past Monday to put flowers on my grandparent’s graves, and he was so upset when it was time to go because there was still one half of the cemetery empty flowers.”
The idea blossomed when Cathe took her son’s idea to Facebook Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Within a just a few days, friends and family members were digging into their closets and basements to find artificial flowers and donating them to Brayden Johnson. A local flower shop donated some flowers while other friends gave cash donations. Within days, the Johnsons were decorating graves around Cass County.
Brayden Johnson’s goal is to cover all the cemetery ground in Garden City, where his relatives are buried, and in his hometown of Harrisonville.
Row after row, the young boy runs from grave to grave, making sure each has a pretty flower.
“I wanted to do something special for the people that passed away,” said Brayden Johnson, who has proudly named himself the official cemetery decorator.
But for his parents, its more about learning how to do an act of kindness.
“We want all the graves to be honored,” said Cathe Johnson. “Since my husband and I have been married, we always try to do something for others and we try to incorporate the kids into it because they’re lucky kids. They’re blessed and they have everything that they need, so we just try to encourage the spirit of giving and giving back to the community.”
Brayden Johnson is still looking for more flowers to cover the Harrisonville cemetery. If you would like to donate, contact Cathe Johnson on Facebook, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 816-807-7464.
“We really want to thank everyone who has donated so far,” Cathe Johnson said. “It’s been so helpful, and we’re so appreciative of the community. He loves doing it, and its been nice seeing everybody pulling together to help help get it accomplished.”