TUPPERS PLAINS — While students are expected to learn reading, writing and arithmetic at school, there is a little something extra students at Eastern Elementary are learning — the value of giving back.
A program started last school year at Eastern Elementary School is teaching students the value of giving back to those around them and supporting causes important in the lives of many throughout the district and region.
Eastern Elementary Principal Jody Howard and teacher Julie Spaun started the “Cause WE Care” program at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year and have since added a third member — Eastern Local Speech Therapist Macyn Baylor — to the committee.
The program allows the students, teachers and staff the opportunity to spread awareness and get students involved in exploring ways of helping other in the community.
“Our goal is for students to realize that they can make a difference in the lives of others,” said Howard.
Activities change each month, with projects ranging from gifts that keep on giving to breast cancer and blood donor awareness month activities.
During the month of October students took part in creating a giant pink human ribbon in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They also did a balloon release in honor and memory of those affected by cancer. Students could also purchase pink carnations to give to those special people in their lives affected by the disease. Money raised from the projects were given to the American Cancer Society.
Each Tuesday over the past year, students and staff have been wearing shirts which say “Believe.” Many of the shirts are pink, and all are in support of cancer awareness.
“We started wearing our “Believe” shirts last year on Tuesdays to show support for one of the parents who received her chemo treatments on Tuesdays,” said Howard. “The idea stuck and most of us continue to wear the shirts every Tuesday.”
One major event for the program and the district is the mini Relay for Life which is held in May.
Last year, students were encouraged to grow their hair out throughout the school year and have that hair cut to be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths which provides wigs to women with cancer. More than three dozen students, staff and relatives took part in the hair donation station, including a handful of boys who had their head shaved for cancer awareness.
The hair donation station will be held again this spring.
In December of this year and last year students in each grade chose a project with the theme gifts that keep giving. Some classrooms chose to make cards and gifts for those in nursing homes, while others collected canned food to donate to a local food pantry.
In January, the school will once again sponsor an American Red Cross blood drive. Last year, approximately 50 people donated blood at the blood drive. Elementary students sponsored donors to encourage more people to donate blood. January is also National Blood Donor Month.
As part of the program, the school will continue to collect pop tabs throughout the year as they did last year. Last year students collected more than 68 gallons (two 34-gallon trash cans) full of pop tabs. Proceeds from the pop tabs go to the Ronald McDonald House Foundation.
The students are about half way to that number already this school year.
Other activities have included “Pennies for Patients” which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; awareness activities to highlight diabetes; and random acts of kindness.