Woodland's Fundraiser Focuses on Acts of Kindness

Woodland's New Fundraiser Focuses on Acts of Kindness
Posted on 10/03/2019
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students cleaning and pulling weedsIt’s not every day that students ask to go out to the playground to pick up trash, or to write thank you letters, or even to pull weeds around the school building. But acts of kindness like these are a daily occurrence at Woodland Elementary.

This wave of kindness was spurred on by the school’s new fundraiser called Raise Craze.

Jen Smith-Bui, Woodland’s PTO President, stumbled across this new way to raise money for the school and was immediately hooked. The idea is simple - ask for direct donations from families, and then the students perform acts of kindness as a way to pay it forward. “The money benefits the PTO, and we then use the donations to give the students and staff access to great programs,” said Smith-Bui. “It's a great circle of giving!  And EVERY student can be a part of the program - you don't have to give a dime to be kind.”

The program also builds a sense of community and connection to the other people in the building. “Woodland’s message is all about being one Pack,” said Principal John Wise. “Fundraising tends to be an individual effort, regardless of the mission and the program. What we loved about Raise Craze is that every student could get involved to make Woodland a better place.”

From the time the students learned about the fundraiser at the kickoff meeting, they were excited to come up with their own acts of kindness – everything from lemonade stands for charity to volunteering at a nursing home.

Staff members also helped students see how their acts of kindness connect to greater community, and they even incorporated it into classroom lessons. For example, one fourth grade class worked together to complete five acts of kindness together during their Personalized Pathways time. They pulled weeds outside, wrote letters of thanks, and even cleaned the bathrooms and hallways. The students learned that these seemingly small acts have a huge impact on the school and their community. Performing the acts of kindness is making a big impact on the students as well.

Wise had at least one student come up to him every morning to share an act of kindness that they completed for someone or for our school. Leo Panyko, a Woodland third-grader, told Wise “I gave out paw paws around the neighborhood and went to Matthew 25 Ministries to help people in need after the hurricane hit. It felt really good to help people out in new ways.”

“The feedback I have primarily gotten is disbelief on how well the program is working,” said Wise. “I have seen some great tweets on Twitter from our families who are doing things together that they may have never done without this program: volunteering at local charity organizations, heading up canned food drives, and helping out at nursing homes… it’s all awesome stuff!”

Incentives were offered at many different participation levels, including ones for simply logging acts of kindness, so even students who couldn’t give donations could win a prize. 

And the results? Woodland raised over $12,500 and logged over 900 acts of kindness during the 3 ½ week program.

“Raise Craze helped us with fundraising, but seeing the kids getting excited about their acts of kindness just fills you with warmth,” said Smith-Bui.

Wise plans on keeping the kindness going. “Raise Craze helped us get started, but we are going to take a look at how we can continue the momentum with more grade-wide and school-wide projects to pump up the kindness!”