Published Sunday, January 06, 2013
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
As fourth-graders, we probably wanted Santa to bring toys – not clothes! – and we may have been blissfully unaware that other children existed, much less went without basics like pajamas.
My, how times have changed.
Fourth grade students at The Heritage School started their holiday service project by bringing in cereal and pretzels and ended up donating more than 50 pairs of pajamas to One Roof for distribution to needy families.
Heritage School fourth-grade teacher Kay Huffstickler is a fan of Scholastic Books, so when she saw the Pajama Project on the company’s website, she thought it was a perfect joint service project for the 34 fourth grade students at Heritage.
Except that no local dropoff point existed.
No worries, though – Huffstickler contacted the company, and representatives said if she could find an appropriate local dropoff, Scholastic would support the project by providing one book with each pair of pajamas donated. One Roof, an ecumenical outreach in Newnan, was chosen and the student-led project got under way.
First, each student was asked to bring a component of trail mix and all were mixed together and bagged. Posters announcing the sale of trail mix – $1 per bag, to be sold during Lower School lunch, Middle School break and Upper School community time – were designed, and the fourth-graders used computer lab time to create labels for the trail mix bags.
Donning pajamas to promote their project, the students sold out of trail mix completely and quickly on the first day. Sales topped $250, and a matching donation from the Lower School netted a total of $528 toward the purchase of pajamas.
“We are really proud of them,” said Ivey Fulmer, who teaches Heritage’s other fourth grade class. “They definitely worked hard, and they were excited about the idea of helping someone.”
When the students set out on their field trip to purchase the pajamas, they had a few more surprises in store. Kohl’s gave them an additional 15 percent off their purchases, and as the children set off in trios to shop, store managers offered the group three huge bags of stuffed animals and three large boxes of hardback books left over from previous store displays to accompany the donation to One Roof.
“They were very, very good to us,” said Fulmer, who added that the store honored Heritage’s purchase with a $100 Kohl’s Cash card that later allowed students to add eight pairs of pajamas to their growing donation pile. “They were very accommodating and very nice.”
Using skills they had learned in Fulmer’s and Huffstickler’s classes, students shopped carefully to get the most for their money.
“It was great,” Fulmer said. “They were very diligent, buying on sale and saying things like, ‘Well, I have a little brother who really likes Angry Birds, so let’s see if we can get a pair for a little boy his age who likes Angry Birds.’ They really cared about what they were doing.”
It didn’t hurt to have good math skills.
“We were thinking we would have to spend a long time going back for one more pair or putting back a pair,” Fulmer said. “But we got up there and they were right on the money with their estimations. They were within $7 of how much money we had to spend.”
Huffstickler said the students have a lot to be proud of.
“The students who bought the trail mix got something for their money, and it wasn’t like our students went to their parents and asked for money to buy pajamas for needy kids,” she said.
“We know we will want to do it again,” said Fulmer, whose third-grade son Preston already is looking forward to his Pajama Project experience next year. “We loved it, and we’re just really thrilled with the way it turned out.”