ST. GEORGE — South Mesa Elementary students are taking a somewhat unorthodox approach to fundraising. Rather than selling a product, they are participating in a “Raise Craze” fundraiser, in which they perform acts of kindness in trade for donations.
Sara Patchett, the PTA president for the elementary school, told St. George News that since launching the program on Friday, students have completed 433 acts of kindness.
Patchett said she stumbled upon the Raise Craze fundraiser while searching for an alternative fundraiser. For this program, kids create an online platform and send it to friends and family. In return for donations, the kids do acts of kindness within the community.
Besides being a unique approach to fundraising, Patchett said Raise Craze aligns with one of the pillars of the new elementary school’s motto: kindness.
“That’s one thing we really wanted to establish in our school,” she said. “Our school’s motto is, ‘We are courageous. We are kind. We strive for excellence.’ So when we came upon this kindness initiative, we were like, ‘Yes, this is it. This is the fundraiser we want our school to be a part of.'”
In addition to individual acts of kindness, students are also participating in a schoolwide act of kindness by bringing in their old, broken crayons and sending them to The Crayon Initiative, where the crayons are melted down, made into new ones and then sent to children’s hospitals across the United States.
Participating in these acts of kindness are essential right now, Patchett said.
“With the atmosphere of the world at this point, the focus on kindness kind of pushes that all aside and the kids can just focus on good things throughout the community,” she said. “It gives them a good feeling to know that they’re putting something out there to make their community a little better.”
Steve Gregoire, principal of South Mesa, told St. George News that when Patchett brought the idea to him, he couldn’t think of what could be better than doing acts of kindness.
“Kids are so giving,” he said. “We’re seeing notes that are written to teachers. We’re seeing sisters or brothers picking up each other’s rooms, doing the dishes without being asked. We even had somebody paint a kindness rock and place it along the route that kids walk to school that says, ‘be kind.'”
Gregoire said he sees kindness as contagious, and he’s noticing more and more kind gestures around the school, such as more compliments being given and doors being held open for others.
“I hope kindness will become a habit, not just during this event when we have a chance to raise a little money, but hopefully it will become a habit we’ll enjoy to do,” he said.
As part of this encouragement, teachers and staff on campus have tokens that they hand out when they witness a student doing an act of kindness. At lunch, the tokens can then be redeemed for a small trinket.
While they plan to purchase some outdoor picnic tables and art supplies with the raised funds, Greroire said this event is about more than the money.
“The Raise Craze is great, but it’s not necessarily about how much money we raise; it’s more about how much kindness and how much we can give of ourselves to others that is going to be the real benefit.”
Leslie Hartman, a second grade teacher for the school, said that in all the years of her teaching experience she has seen many fundraising events, but none of them compare to the Raise Craze fundraiser.
“This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time,” she said. “During this challenging time, when many adults and children alike have had very few meaningful personal interactions, this event has created opportunities for students and community members to interact in positive and enriching ways.”
Heidi Sorensen, a parent of a third-grade girl, told St. George News that her daughter got very excited about participating in the fundraiser and thinking about all the things she could do.
“This morning … because it was garbage day, she pulled the (neighbor’s) garbage bins up. She wrote a note to her teacher. She wrote a note to our delivery person with some snacks and left it outside,” Sorensen said. “Kids tend to be really self-involved, so this is helping them look towards helping others instead,” she said.
Most importantly, Sorenson said this is reigniting a sense of connection.
“As we’re wearing masks around, we are losing that personal connection that we have with people, such as smiling. You can’t tell if someone is smiling at you right now. So this is helping pay it forward: What can we do for other people and brighten their day?”
As of Wednesday, 210 students have registered to participate and have raised $11,000. The fundraiser will continue until Sept. 14.
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