Last month one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall -- Typhoon Haiyan – touched down in the Philippines, leaving an enormous path of devastation in its wake.
This catastrophic natural disaster sparked action among students in Penny Glackman’s third grade class at Merion Elementary School, who decided to do something as a class to help victims of the typhoon. After an impassioned brainstorming session, the students decided they would generate funds for the Red Cross through the sale of rainbow band bracelets at lunch. .
“The energy in the room heightened as the children discussed with great enthusiasm what they could create, how much they should charge, and when they could sell the items,” said Glackman. “The next few days, everyone stayed in for recess – by choice! – as the children went into major production making bracelets with looms brought in from home. The collaboration of students working together and sharing ideas was truly invigorating.”
A team of students began working on advertising for the fundraiser creating a variety of promotional materials to display throughout the school while others handled business-related issues of production and pricing of items.
“The project really began to develop its own energy as discussions took place, learning opportunities emerged and the community feeling became stronger,” continued Glackman. “The focus on helping those who had suffered from the typhoon was of the ultimate concern.”
When the sale began, Ms. Glackman's class had more than 300 unique bracelets in their inventory. Within the first three hours of the first day, the bracelets had almost completely sold out, generating more than $900 for the cause. With initial funds raised, students enjoyed an afternoon of math activites as they counted their proceeds, graphed bracelet sale patterns and projected what would be needed for the next push.
“Over the weekend children throughout the entire school were making bracelets and bringing them in to contribute to the project. Everyone wanted to be a part of this effort to help the Phillipines,” Glackman explained. “It was incredibly gratifying and amazing to see the school-wide effort and strong desire to help. We were all completely stunned by the outpouring of support from our school community.”
The response to the bracelet fundraiser was so great that sales continued throughout the following week and money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan kept pouring in.
“The lesson of giving was embedded throughout the entire experience,” said Glackman. “We were able to integrate math, literacy, social studies, and science as we worked daily to learn more about Typhoon Haiyan and the Phillipines. Raising more than $3,000 in just one week overwhelmed us all. One thing we learned was that children can truly make a difference.”
On December 18, students from Ms. Glackman's class presented Judge Renee Hughes, CEO of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, with a check from the fundraiser during a ceremony at Merion. Judge Hughes expressed her gratitude, praised the students for a job well done and encouraged continued service for those in need.