NEW MADISON — Tri-Village senior student Brittany Brewer was asked by her little sister why students had to pay $1 to wear pajamas to the school Tuesday, December 5.
Brewer explained that it was a fundraiser.
“I told her it is so other kids can have Christmas too,” Brewer said.
Brewer is vice-president of both the Future Farmers of America and the National Honor Society, and a member of the Student Council. Those clubs have led the Tri-Village student body and staff in working towards the schools’ Christmas Adopt-a-Family fundraiser. The schools have adopted 16 families; the most they have ever adopted.
Evidence of the fundraiser spills out in the halls, throughout the elementary to high schools, including: carts of canned goods, a huge thermos of hot chocolate to sell and bulletin boards covered with goal charts. The annual initiative is coordinated by math teachers Heather Stump and Beth Fisherback. Stump is the High School Student Council advisor and Fisherback is the Junior High School Student Council Advisor. Fisherback said the fundraiser began about 10 years ago.
“I wanted the kids to realize the need here,” she said. “We adopted two families, and I wasn’t even sure if we could raise our goal of $1,000- it was a little overwhelming. Now it has grown to 16 families with a $15,000 goal. There are 38 kids total in those families, ranging from pre-school to high school ages. It is a little overwhelming to think about.”
The schools have reached a half-way point of about $8,000. The many fundraisers include: dress-up days, hot chocolate and snack sales, a carnival and the biggest being the November quarter auction. Donations and support have also come from the community. Incentives are attached to motivate students, such as doughnuts and prizes for the canned food drive, and Business Teacher Robert Honeycutt’s hair transformation. When the students raise $5,000 for Honeycutt’s hair, he will have a multi-colored mohawk and a dyed beard. He is looking for the scissors now.
“Anything for the kids,” he said. “It’s for a good cause and they know that.”
December 21 is delivery day, leaving little time between now and then to get everything done. Fisherback and Stump do most of the shopping, usually enlisting the help of Teacher’s Aide Deb Frech, filling about 15-20 carts each trip, for a total of three trips. In addition, the Multiple Disability class does the shopping for hygiene items, such as toilet paper and laundry soap. The families receive clothing, toys, personal necessities, food and gift cards to local businesses, for food, gas and meat. In total, each family receives about $1,000 in supplies, according to Fisherback.
Students and staff help with sorting and separating. Fisherback said they are very careful in labeling boxes using a numerical system to ensure confidentiality.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Fisherback said. “We have great kids, we really do. They are very good leaders and we couldn’t do it without them.”
The need grows ever year, according to Fisherback. Each family is usually adopted only once, unless there are special circumstances.
“We have helped some families, and now they are helping us,” Fisherback said. “That is what we are trying to achieve.”
Both Fisherback and Stump’s rooms are filling up with supplies for the families. And while the project is satisfying, Fisherback is clear that it is not about her or Stump, but the entire school. They want the students to understand the importance of the endeavor.
“I hate that my name is affixed to this,” Fisherback said. “It takes all of the students and the teachers. I always tell the kids, it is not about us as individuals, it is about what we do with all of us together. We want them to realize it is about giving, because we know for some of these families there would be nothing under the tree this year. It is a dire situation.”
Senior Student Council members Alana Holsapple and Lauren Flory said they are suprised at the effort.
“It is so surprising to see how much money we can raise, being a small school, that we can all come together so quickly,” Holsapple said.
Flory added that the community helps out a lot too.
“To see all of our student body rally up to support all of these families is just so awesome,” Brewer said. “It makes me smile to be a part of this.”
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