Fundraising for the Red, White and Blue
By Karen Hunt
Gail Jensen wanted to teach her elementary school students the importance of giving back to others while also teaching them what it means to be thankful for people who go to extraordinary lengths to protect their country’s freedom.
Jensen, who teaches first grade to 20 students in Bovill, Idaho, incorporated curriculum into her classroom with lessons about U.S. military veterans, the different branches of service and the liberties they protect.
Together, the class created books about Veterans' Day. They pieced together little red, white and blue flags made of construction paper and ribbon and learned a special song about veterans. For their final project, the first graders raised money for the University of Idaho’s Operation Education to help veterans.
"I like to teach this lesson to our youngest students every year," said Jensen. “George and Lindy Stockton had given me some brochures about Operation Education. When I showed the brochures to the kids, they could see that these were real veterans from Idaho and we could help.”
Jensen’s first-grade class planned a cake raffle during a high school basketball game against Potlatch, hosted in the Deary gym.
The little cake sellers sang the National Anthem before the game. Then, they darted out to the lobby to hawk tickets for the drawing.
“Our goal was $25,” says Jensen. “When we started making quite a bit of money that night, it was very exciting for the children.
“We had six or seven really good cakes that teachers and students' moms had made.”
Community members were smitten with the kids and their cause. Only the hardest hearts could walk away from a pitch like that.
Fans from Potlatch contributed as much as the folks from Deary. By the evening’s end, the children had collected $141.75 and they couldn’t wait to donate it to the scholarship program for University of Idaho vets.
“It’s important to teach the kids that a little bit can do a lot,” says Jensen. “Our little story might inspire someone else to give. The kids learned a lot from this experience. We all felt good about doing something positive for someone else.”