The community of Lewiston and its local school were asked to give. They delivered.
A sixth grader, three fifth graders and a teacher of Lewiston Consolidated Schools organized a recent fundraising effort for the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha that resulted in 600 donated clothing items and $245 spent on activities for the patients.
“This was completely their idea,” said Debbie Goossen, the school librarian and instructor of the four high ability learners.
The fifth and sixth graders were told only to think of a project to benefit others.
In a group interview, the children said the idea was a group effort. Student Ean Rule said he suggested donating to a hospital.
“My aunt’s friend donated to the children’s hospital, so I thought of that,” Persefenie Woutzke said.
Carleigh Weyers thought of the clothing drive and Kienen Creek thought of the coin drive, they said.
“At first, we had a totally different idea,” Carleigh said. “We were going to bring hot chocolate and cookies to people in town who are lonely. But we thought this would be better.”
The students said they thought the fundraiser would be more helpful.
“I’ve been to a hospital – not a children’s hospital – but I’ve been to a hospital, and they’re not fun. Not usually,” Ean said.
Plus, the parents might not have money to spend on toys and games, Persefenie said. They’re spending it on medicine, Carleigh said. Hopefully it will make the child patients happy, Ean said.
“It will take their minds off being in the hospital and being hurt or injured,” Carleigh said. “It will make them feel better.”
The students spread the word about the fundraiser through fliers, posters and a Christmas-themed play that they wrote and performed for Lewiston kindergartners through sixth graders. The four students played Santa Clause, the narrator, an elf and a boy in the hospital. At the end, they told the audience how they could donate.
Within two days, $120 in coins was donated. The fundraiser was extended by a week and another $100 came in. Wal-Mart donated a $25 gift card. On Tuesday, Goossen and the children used all of the money to buy art supplies, games, movies and other items they thought juvenile patients would enjoy. They’ll deliver the items and tour the hospital on Thursday.
The most challenging part of the project, the kids said, was counting the donations. In the end, they said they learned about responsibility, how to count money and shop on a budget, and a lesson in being kind to others.
“The one who gives receives more in the end,” Ean said. “I came up with that (quote). That’s what I think of it as, because usually it’s true.”
After purchasing the activities and before dropping them off, the four students said they felt happy.
“I feel like a good person,” Carleigh said. “It’s been an inspiration.”
Kienen said he felt like a great person and he enjoyed counting the money and lugging it to the bank.
“I’m happy to help people in need,” Persefenie said.
“I’m happy to know that others are receiving what they potentially did not already have,” Ean said. “I’m pretty sure that if you were in a children’s hospital, you would like if someone else did that for you.”