Raise Craze Fundraiser Focuses on Kindness

Raise Craze Fundraiser Focuses on Acts of Kindness
Posted on 11/02/2020
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Collage of acts of kindness“We have to focus on the positive, on things that we can do, on giving lots of grace and having lots of patience this year.” What could be considered words to live by in the middle of a pandemic is actually how Emily Miller, co-president of the Adena Elementary School PTO, recalled a conversation among the executive board when discussing fundraising activities for the year. 

How can a school continue fundraising efforts when there are strict safety protocols in place? This is a question that every Lakota principal and parent group has asked themselves this year.

PTO co-chairs Jena Wells and Lindsey Sharp shared with the group how Woodland Elementary introduced Raise Craze last year. “The idea of a kindness challenge in such uncertain and trying times seemed like a great way to help students focus on being kind when everything is different this year,” Miller continued.

Raise Craze turns acts of kindness into a way to support your school in this unique approach to fundraising. The concept is simple: students receive donations from family and friends and then perform acts of kindness.

Principal John Mattingly immediately jumped on board. “This was a great opportunity to include our VLO (virtual learning opportunity) students,” he said, also noting that the school moved its annual kindness challenge to October to coincide with the event.

Students were able to select from a list of acts of kindness ideas or they could choose their own. Examples include doing something nice for your family, decorating mailboxes for mail carriers and donating items to a local animal shelter. Mattingly and the PTO also included donating items to the district’s Stuff the Bus food drive to benefit Reach Out Lakota.

Sharp explained that they needed to think of a kick-off celebration to get the kids excited about the fundraiser. While normally the school would hold an assembly, they had to think outside the box. “Because this year we were not able to have assemblies or a kick-off, we tried to get the students excited by doing kindness posters. We thought maybe the kids seeing their own artwork reminding others to be kind would be fun for them.”  This turned into a grade-level contest and the creation of a kindness wall - and another way to include VLO students, as they could bring their posters to the school.

Fourth-graders Ella Meyer and Drew Sharp, along with sixth-grader Sydney Swiatek, were the top three earners in the school, collectively raising over $1,400. “Team Adena is all about kindness,” said Ella, who created a gift basket filled with cards, snacks and books for the West Chester Police Department. She explained that the books were “for when the officers visit schools for read alouds.”

Drew created cards for his teachers as well as patients in local hospitals. In addition to donating toys, Sydney painted rocks with messages of kindness to leave on her neighbors’ doorsteps. 

The school was able to raise nearly $8,000 through acts of kindness. The money will be used to supplement recess equipment and help fund a new water bottle filling station for the school. It will also be used to pay for mulch for the school’s nature trail. 

Enter Mark Wells, founder of Hands2Hope, a faith-based non-profit organization that connects volunteers to those in need in the community. Wells and a group of volunteers offered to clean up the school’s nature trail that leads to an outdoor amphitheater. “We’re trying to create as many learning spaces as we can,” said Mattingly. With physical distancing and face coverings a requirement, Mattingly and his team of teachers, like many throughout the district, are turning towards outdoor spaces for class and mask breaks. “Mark’s organization tries to help a school every year as a way to give back to the community and we certainly appreciate it.”

While co-chair Jena Wells is happy with the results of the fundraiser, she’s even happier about the lesson students learned. “One of the main reasons we chose this fundraiser was because it also taught the children a great life lesson: Kindness Matters. We had 178 kindness acts completed. That is 178 times that our children impacted the world in such a great way.”