It all started with a story.
Timber Ridge Elementary School, like any other, encourages their students to read. This year, Timber Ridge Elementary’s library has a theme: “Reading Takes You Places” and ties in with the district’s Portrait of Learner plan to build skills of community and global mindedness in students and teachers. “My Name is Sangoel”, by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed, is one such book that did exactly that. It presented an opportunity to teach students about cultures and countries on the other side of the world, as well as why it is important to treat others with kindness, have open minds, and be welcoming to whomever they meet.
Three fifth grade students – Kate, Mackenzie, and Morgan – took these messages to heart and decided to start a school-wide fundraiser for refugees resettling in Iowa. And that’s exactly what they did. Together with 750 of their classmates, the girls raise more than $1000 for USCRI Des Moines.
“After reading the books in the library about refugees, we started thinking of ideas and ways we could help them,” said Morgan. “We did a fundraiser with the whole school and raised $1,054.00 for refugees.”
Not only did the girls raise money for USCRI, but they also put together a slide show for an all-school assembly in December so inform their peers about this issue. Kate, Mackenzie, and Morgan are a testament to the influence we can all have on our communities and our world. You are never too small or insignificant to make a difference.
“Given some of the recent things refugees and immigrants have experienced in our country, a gesture like this sends a very welcoming message to them,” said Baccam Huynh, office manager for USCRI Des Moines. “When we see young students put so much thought and effort into doing something kind for others, I think it gives everyone hope for the future of our nation. We are sharing the same mission to help others…”
The money from the fundraiser will be used to help local families purchase needed items like winter coats and bedding. Donations will also help Des Moines with new English-speaking classes and the costs of materials.
And the takeaway for these students?
“It’s makes us really happy we are able to help them get things they need,” Said Mackenzie.
The three friends said they would be more than happy to do this fundraiser again.
So for the students and for many new Americans in Des Moines, this story has a happy ending.