Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pocket change makes a difference

Students dig deep to aid tsunami victims

Express Staff Writer

Piles of pocket change can help others in need. Over the past few weeks Wood River Middle School students and staff saved their soda money, emptied their change jars and collected cash to raise $6,441 for the tsunami relief effort, following the devastating destruction Dec. 26 throughout South East Asia..

"(The project) gives (the students) an opportunity to be responsible global citizens," said John Cvetich, Wood River Middle School principal.

Language arts teacher Sara Shafer and the Student Leadership Classes led the fundraising effort with help from parent volunteers. The organizers distributed envelopes for students and staff to donate money to the tsunami relief effort. The school emphasized school wide participation, rather than setting a monetary goal, in order to teach students the value of caring for others.

"(The goal) wasn't the amount of money a child brought in, it was 'Hey, I contributed,'" Cvetich said.

Students rose to the occasion with 85-percent of the student body participating in the fundraising effort.

"It gave the students a sense of purpose," he said.

Instilling the importance of helping others coincides with a new community service element in the district's curriculum. Teachers also incorporated the fundraising effort into their teaching.

"(The tsunami) was a point of discussion in classes, (in order for students) to try to get a handle on the enormity of the disaster," Cvetich said.

The school worked diligently to find an appropriate organization that focuses on kids and that applies the majority of the money to direct services. Organizers decided upon the "Save the Children" charity.

"We wanted to make sure our dollars went to the folks that needed them," Cvetich said.

Cvetich hopes to continue the kids' efforts to help those in need. In the future he hopes the school will partner with another educational institution affected by a disaster "so support an caring would be on-going."

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