Students at Roland Chatterton Elementary School in Merrick, New York are smiling from ear to ear as a result of their fundraising efforts this past April/May. The sixth-grade’s unique “Acts of Kindness” fundraiser provided Reagan, an elementary student at the Jambo Jipya School in Mwtapa, Kenya, with another year of schooling through the nonprofit organization Reason2Smile.
The journey began last year with the Class of 2015. The theme of “Act of Kindness” has always been a part of Chatterton’s character education program, but incorporating this project into the present curriculum enabled the sixth grade teachers to take it to the next level. Over a two week period students were responsible for listing one of more acts of kindness a day and then reflect on them. In addition the sixth grade students shared and discussed their actions with classmates as well as worked on a writing piece that used their persuasive writing skills to support a cause of their choosing. Tied to the “Acts of Kindness” theme the students have been learning about the non-profit Reason2Smile and its work in Kenya. Reason2Smile’s mission is to financially assist impoverished orphans and at-risk children living in developing countries with a safe living environment, proper nutrition and a good-quality education. Utilizing the Reason2Smile curriculum trunk, students learned about the Jambo Jipya school in Mtwapa, Kenya and gained a better understanding and appreciation of Kenyan life. The trunk includes a variety of teaching tools to allow students to critically analyze and explore life in the developing world.
With a fundraising goal of $300 — the cost of sending an elementary child to school for an entire year — sixth-graders held a two-week “Acts of Kindness” fundraiser in which students found sponsors to support their kind acts. Students recorded their acts of kindness, and sponsors contributed a flat rate for their participation or assigned any dollar amount of their choosing for each act performed. To supplement the effort, sixth-graders of Deborah Cain’s and Victoria Ryan’s classes sold Kenyan jewelry/crafts and Reason2Smile bracelets provided by the organization. The bracelets symbolized community, with an emphasis that all people are connected in some way.
On the final day of the fundraiser, Donna Rosenblum, Executive Director of Reason2Smile and a former Chatterton parent, paid a special visit to the school. She spoke to students about Keela Dates Grimmette, the founder of Reason2Smile, discussed her own involvement in the organization and encouraged students to get involved with an organization they feel passionate about.
Following her presentation, the Class of 2016 presented Mrs. Rosenblum with a donation check for $2,884.85 from their Acts of Kindness fundraiser, Kenyan crafted bracelet and Reason2Smile bracelet sales.
The district commends these students for their benevolent acts and extends its gratitude to all of the Chatterton School faculty, administrators and sixth-grade teachers who made this event successful.