Changing lives, one coin at a time
Students and teachers were shocked when they found out Willamette Primary School raised more than double their goal for their Red Cross "Your Change Changes Lives" Fundraiser.
In light of recent disasters that have devastated communities around the nation — Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the Eagle Creek Fire — classes raised money from Sept. 14-28 to support disaster relief projects.
"I think it's important because people in Hurricane Harvey and Irma, their houses are just getting destroyed," fifth-grader Naomi Oltmans said. "Think about how that would feel."
Teacher Tina Allahverdian's fifth-grade class and teacher Derek Porter's fourth-grade class took the lead on this project and quickly got to work.
"People and families are dying, they feel a terrible loss and the very least we can do is (help) give back their houses, some food, and at least a good sleep," said fifth-grader Zack Jordan.
The students read articles about the hurricanes and fire in class and spent time making posters to spread awareness about the fundraiser, making morning and assembly announcements.
"I think it's important for the posters because parents are walking down the halls and they'll notice the poster and feel like it's an important cause," Zack said.
For Porter, the leadership opportunities that have opened up for students have been rewarding.
"It's been inspiring to see them take on this," Allahverdian said. "You can tell they feel really proud taking on leadership like this. They're experiencing what it feels like to give back and how exciting that can feel to be a part of something bigger than their own small community here."
At the end of the day, students in the two classes went around and collected change jars from each classroom and emptied them into a larger jar in the office. The original goal was $700 and on the second day, the school had already raised $500. By the last day, Sept. 28, they had about $1,950 in total.
"Some kids have brought in some $20s, we've even had some $50s and one $100. I don't know if there's been more than one, but still there's some bigger donations, but most (was) change," Allahverdian said.
The money will primarily go toward emergency food packets, water and supplies needed to help get people's lives back on track.
But Willamette Primary wasn't the only school in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District that did something to help hurricane victims. Athey Creek Middle School had a similar Red Cross change drive to help with hurricane relief projects.
Eighth-graders Jenna Goodheart, Lila Skates and Kylie Hall helped start the fundraiser at Athey Creek.
"I was talking with a teacher and she heard other schools were doing it and we realized our school wasn't doing anything for all the damage and repercussions of what was going on," Goodheart said. "I wanted to make sure our school was participating in some way."
The fundraiser was made into a competition between grade levels and eighth-grade took the win, raising about $268 out of the $682.63 raised by all grade levels.
"(The students) can make a difference in the world, being kids, and they can see their change (and) efforts impacting people," Allahverdian said.
"It makes me feel great that we are actually making a real difference," Zack added.