MOUNT VERNON — Students at Mount Vernon Middle School have learned a very valuable lesson in giving back to their community, just in time for the holidays. The seventh grade students in Team Phoenix have raised just over $1,340 for the Winter Sanctuary, who visited the school and thanked students for their incredible efforts Friday morning.
The students fund-raised for the shelter from Dec. 1 through Dec. 14, seventh grade math teacher Meghan Burley-Durbin explained. The students themselves led the fundraising efforts and chose the Winter Sanctuary as their initiative.
“Every year, we as teachers, want to do something for the local community,” Burley-Durbin said. “And so, we brainstorm a list of organizations and we had them vote on which organizations they wanted to donate their money to. We gave them a brief synopsis of every organization.”
The students themselves designed the way that they fundraised for the shelter as well, she said.
“Some kids just asked their parents for money, some kids took money from their own savings, or just used their own money,” she said. “Some kids asked their neighbors, grandparents or even their parents, for some extra chores and so earned money that way that they then donated.”
One student in particular went above and beyond in his fundraising efforts. Hunter Moore would consistently donate money throughout the two weeks, his homeroom teacher Monica Baker explained.
“He [Moore] gave his birthday money, he did chores for his grandma to raise money, and even after he gave so much, he would still go home and bring me in a couple of dollars every day,” Baker said.
This fundraising effort also served as a small in-team competition for Team Phoenix, as each homeroom competed to bring in the most money. Baker’s class, thanks to the efforts of its dedicated students like Moore, brought in the most funds, with $426 donated to the Winter Sanctuary. The winning students were able to enjoy a small feast of treats that were purchased or prepared by the other homeroom teachers and staff of Team Phoenix.
Joe Springer, operations manager of the Winter Sanctuary, was on hand to accept a handmade check that represented the total amount of $1,340 that the students donated. He told the News that all of the funds raised by the students will go to the direct operational costs of the facility, helping to defray the costs of utilities and other necessities.
“It will all go to heat the building, our utilities, just to provide a warm, safe place for our guests to stay,” he said.
Before the check was presented to Springer, six students performed original poems that explained themes of homelessness and the hope that organizations like The Winter Sanctuary can give to homeless individuals. The poems exhibited emotions of pain, hope and choosing to fight on despite the adversity that can come with homelessness. Original poems were performed by Kylee Stone, Kierra Reed, Carter William, Jose Beceril, Kaylin Tipton and Ellie Martin.
Springer was taken aback with the amount of money that the students raised, stating that their fundraising effort was “incredible.”
“I think it’s just incredible, not only the financial donation that they’re contributing to the shelter, but also getting the whole community involved, including the children,” Springer said. “The children in our community, thinking about other people, caring and loving for others who need some help, especially at this time of year.”