On the calendar in the Wasuma third-grade classroom, Jan. 28 was circled in thick red ink. It marked the 100th day of the school year, and also the end to a challenge.
Twenty-six pairs of tiny hands have been busy tossing change in a jar, making ties for fleece blankets, and collecting food cans. The goal during the “Be the Change” challenge - to reach $100 in coins and collect 100 food cans, both for Food for Families.
Each student also created four personalized valentines, and broke into teams of four to work on six colorful fleece blankets, covered with peace signs, baseballs, hearts, soccer balls, happy faces, and frogs - all of which will be dropped off at Valley Children’s Hospital.
This is the second year the Wasuma third-graders have made valentines for VCH, but this year, it has mushroomed into so much more.
The “Be the Change” challenge came about following a class discussion on making a difference.
“The kids said they were too young for that, so I told them their homework that night was to search the Internet for kids their age, who are doing something to make a difference,” teacher Gabriele Franck explained. “They came back the next day, excited, sharing about a boy who collects used reading glasses for children in need, and another who makes blankets for the homeless.”
It was the impetus needed to jump-start the class, with the students becoming the driving force behind the momentum.
Kya Lemire said she likes working on the blankets because she thinks it will make the children at the hospital happier. Kaitlyn O’Brien echoed Kya’s thinking, adding it was fun. She also mentioned that helping others runs in the family - that her older sister, Emily, a Yosemite High freshman, raises money for cancer.
Valentine messages had one central theme. Ian Palsgaard started with, “I don’t know your name, but get well soon.” Lacey Archer’s valentine read, “I hope you get well soon, and that you can see your parents.” Inside Zeke Marr’s valentine were the words: “Dear friend, I hope you feel better soon and if you can write back to Wasuma School.”
“My heart is full. I am so proud of these awesome, thoughtful and caring kids. What started out as a simple class conversation at Christmas time has turned out to be more of a life- changing event,” Franck said. “These kids now know and will forever remember that they don’t have to sit back and hope for a change ... that, with a little effort, they can make a difference, and they can ‘Be the Change.’”