SHERIDAN — Students at Highland Park Elementary School have raised $200 through a penny drive to donate to victims of Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in November and to Cuidad de Angeles (City of Angels), a charitable organization working to bring clean drinking water to towns in El Salvador.
The effort to raise money for the typhoon relief fund and water-filtering project was spearheaded by the school’s third-grade classes. The students heard from two guest speakers with connections to both projects — one, a woman who is from the Philippines and who has family there, and a fourth-grade teacher who has assisted with the City of Angels project and explained to the students how challenging it is for residents to find clean, unpolluted drinking water.
The students also did their own independent research on both subjects and then wrote persuasive papers that were read over the school’s intercom to encourage staff and students throughout the school to donate to the projects.
“Writing is hard for kids and when they think there is a real audience out there, what they are able to produce and the efforts they are willing to put into it is greater. Their efforts seem more genuine,” third-grade teacher Stacie McFadden said. “We have been talking a lot all year about trying to give the kids a purpose for their writing. Not just the idea of a teacher reading it and grading it but that we write to express ourselves and there are causes that can benefit from your opinions and education about a cause.”
The drive took place over just one week, with coin donations coming from staff, students and parents and other family of students. The original goal, which was met and exceeded, was to raise enough money to provide one water filter, which costs $75, to an El Salvadoran family through City of Angels. The $200 raised was split evenly between the water and typhoon relief projects.
“We were really kind of taken back,” McFadden said about the enthusiasm the students showed for the project. “Just the empathy they showed towards both situations is what you hope kids would do, but you aren’t sure what they see outside themselves. But they were very passionate about it and they really feel like they helped.”
WHAT THE HIGHLAND PARK THIRD-GRADERS SAY
Evan Feck: “It made me feel like I was really doing something. They are probably more happy than I was because they are getting the money and they can buy stuff they need. All I did is just write this paragraph and it really makes you feel good.”
Tate Bateman: “It made me feel like I helped someone, I saved lives by persuading someone to just donate a penny and I was just amazed by how many people actually participated and it just made me feel like a super hero. Usually adults help but we made a big difference in peoples lives and we are just 8 and 9 years old. We were stepping up and not having all the adults do all the work.”
Sage Lowe: “It is kind of like a once in a lifetime chance. It just feels good. You could have everything in the world but you just want these people to be happy and safe. You are so happy for other people and usually people when they think of happy they think of getting presents for themselves, but when I think of happy I think of giving someone else a present.”
Cameron Reckard: “It really just made me feel really good inside that I got to help the world almost, someone that I don’t even know, helping them have clean water, have a job. I am giving so that they can live. It just felt good to finally have some responsibility. You know as a kid you don’t have a lot of responsibility.”
Kate Briggs: “When I gave pennies I felt like I was kind of there helping them out.”
Coleman Hanchett: “I was surprised how much money we raised. I was feeling so good that we raised so much money to help save people’s lives. This is the best thing you could ever do to help.”