In the summer of 1998, students at Whitwell Middle School decided to collect six million paper clips in tribute to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Their goal, explained Associate Principal David Smith was "to teach our students what happens when people are not tolerant and allow power and charisma to rule our thinking."
The project was inspired by the story of a group of Europeans who wore paper clips in their lapels during World War II as a silent protest against Nazism and anti-Semitism.
As of August 2001, the small rural Eastern Tennessee community had collected over 28 million paper clips from all 50 states and 34 world countries. The school had received "hundreds to thousands of responses daily."
Former Presidents George Bush and Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Tom Hanks have sent paper clips. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg of Schindler's List fame sent a gold paper clip.
What does a school do with 28 million paper clips? The students plan to transform a German railroad car that once took Jews to concentration camps into a museum to house their clips and letters of support from all over the world.
Great or small, you do make a difference.