On Nov. 6, Graytown Elementary fifth-graders presented a check
for $3,500 to Melissa Kimball, special events coordinator for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The funds will go to help Jenna, a Genoa teenager who is battling leukemia to realize her dream – to meet country music star Carrie Underwood.
The super-sized ceremonial check represented the culmination of the equally giant dedication and effort of Kyle O’Neill’s fifth-graders, along with a group of University of Toledo students and generous donors in the Genoa Area School District.
This is the second year the Graytown students raised money for Make-A-Wish through the “Kids for Wish Kids” program. “We felt it was such a wonderful cause – one that the kids can identify with,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill tailored the two-month community service project to provide hands-on learning experiences that cover the curriculum in math, language arts, social studies and technology.
“But perhaps the most important lesson is showing students the meaning of helping others,” he said.
The project began shortly after school started, with fifth-graders making posters and decorating collection bins. They officially kicked off their effort Sept. 4, collecting donations at the Oak Harbor vs. Genoa football game. “Since Jenna is from Genoa, we thought this would be an especially appropriate way to start,” O’Neill said. “We also contacted Genoa Schools, which also collected funds for the effort.” O’Neill said.
Students were also assigned to write letters that described their project and encouraged their schoolmates to contribute. Through an online “wiki” or collaborative Web site, University of Toledo education students and members of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, edited the letters, which the fifth-graders then presented in all the Graytown classrooms.
Once a week, O’Neill’s students collected the donations from the various classrooms. Dr. Judy Lambert, UT assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, visited O’Neill’s classroom to offer students instruction on using spreadsheets to record and graph the funds raised.
The effort wrapped up at the Oak Harbor Apple Festival in October, where O’Neill rented a booth, and students displayed posters and other information about their project and collected donations from festivalgoers.
Though the Nov. 6 check presentation was for $3,500, the total is still growing as UT students continue to collect funds to help make Jenna’s wish come true.
“It surprised me that we were actually able to raise more money this year than last year, in light of the economic situation,” O’Neill said, adding that the Graytown kindergartners will be treated to a movie party hosted by his students for bringing in the most donations among the school’s classes.
“It’s my understanding that Make-A-Wish has spoken to Carrie Underwood’s associates and plans are being made,” O’Neill said.
Because of health concerns, Jenna was unable to attend the presentation, O’Neill said, but plans are underway for students to meet her via the Internet.
“They really want an opportunity to meet her,” O’Neill said.
Graytown Elementary fifth-graders participated in a service project that raised money for Make-A-Wish’s “Kids for Wish Kids” initiative. Funds will go to help a Genoa teenager battling leukemia realize her wish of meeting country music star Carrie Underwood. “They also have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made someone’s wise come true,” teacher Kyle O’Neill said. “How often does that happen?”