By Breanna Walton, Army Flier StaffApril 29, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- "Together We Can Help Japan" is the modified school motto for kindergarteners and first grade students at the Fort Rucker Primary School.
Sixteen first grade and eight kindergarten students raised $1,100 to help Japan earthquake and tsunami victims.
Fundraising began when primary school teacher Brenda Forti's unit began studying Japan, which coincidentally was the same week the earthquake and tsunami hit the country.
"Students started seeing the images on television and were upset," said Forti. "One of the students was particularly concerned and asked if we could help.
"The children began brainstorming and some wanted to send toys and some wanted to send wood so the Japanese could rebuild their homes," she continued. "We talked about the logistics of shipping toys and wood, and settled on the idea that maybe the Red Cross could buy the toys and wood if we sent them the money."
A coin drive with the modified school motto was put into action. Mason jars were bought, stickers were made and students visited each classroom and explained the fundraiser.
"Japan had an earthquake and tsunami and everything is destroyed. We are a special school and we want to help other people, make their schools better and help them have better lives," said Hyasen Gray, 6.
Multiple fundraisers were then put in place by students to start raising money. A first grader started a lemonade stand with two friends and donated about $70.
"On the lemonade stand board we wrote 'donations for Japan,' and people came by and didn't get lemonade but would just give us the money," said Isabella Morter, 7.
Additional money was collected from piggy banks, ice cream money and change children gathered from their parents.
"It feels really good to help. I had ice cream money and I didn't really want ice cream, so I donated it to Japan," said Tate Nicholson, 6.
At the end of four weeks, students gathered the money and took it to Vicky Davis at Army Aviation Federal Credit Union in Daleville. She allowed the students to use the bank's machine to count the change.
"When Mrs. Davis realized the children were short $37 of reaching $1,100, she donated her own money," said Forti. "We were so fortunate to work with her. She was genuinely excited about what the children were doing, and praised them for their efforts and success.'
Sue Beckman, American Red Cross Coffee County Chapter executive director presented the students with a check for $1,100 at the school April 15.
The money raised will go to the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response, specifically the Japanese Red Cross, which is providing direct emergency relief, medical service and emotional counseling to affected communities.
"Today I have seen a group of children show compassion and love for others around the world," said Beckman. "Their passion to help can encourage other children and adults to take part in helping others. I was honored to see these children were so excited over the hard work they did to help someone they didn't know.
"The American Red Cross loves to hear about children raising funds to help others as a humanitarian organization, it's a wonderful thing to see," she continued.
"I am very impressed with the focus and drive these children exhibited. These 6 and 7 year olds were so proud their idea became a reality and they truly believe they can change the world," Forti added. "I have always known what wonderful and caring students we have at Fort Rucker. Their parents are doing an amazing job raising thoughtful and considerate children who believe they can make a difference."