“It makes me feel like a hero,” the 8-year-old said, “sort of like Superman.”
LJ and his third- to fifth-grade classmates in the school’s Challenge program for gifted students have been working since October to create hundreds of Christmas crafts. On Dec. 8, they will hold an open house in which family, friends and community members can purchase those crafts by making a donation.
Those donations will be given to four charities: Gardner-Simmons Home For Girls, Alpha House, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society. Money also will go to the school’s Christmas fund, which helps a needy family at the school.
The students researched and voted for the charities to benefit. They have since done more research on those charities and will create brochures about each one that will be handed out during the open house, which will be held in the school’s media center from 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. It is open to the public.
“They’ve really gotten excited about this and have had a passion for compassion,” Lawndale Challenge teacher Teresa Gregory said of the school’s Children Learning and Understanding Service, or C.L.A.U.S. Project. “They have been given this gift, and they are giving back.”
The project is a collaboration of about 125 Challenge students in Gregory’s, Sally Amos’ and Victoria Derveloy’s classes.
Crafts made include decorative ceramic tiles, art made from crushed aluminum cans, bookmarks, beaded crosses, picture frames, Christmas cards, burlap stockings, photo clips and decorative wooden blocks.
“It makes us feel happy because when people donate stuff for our crafts, we give money to people who need help,” said third-grader Josh Smith, 8.
As the students researched the various charities, they were visited by guest speakers from Gardner-Simmons and Alpha House.
“The students are talking about people who make a difference in the world, and they are learning that even a small amount of money can make a difference,” Amos said.
Derveloy said the students are developing a sense of giving back to the community.
“We are talking about compassion and ways we can help people,” she said.
Gregory said she was touched by the journal entry that fourth-grader Chloe Phillips wrote about the project.
“You don’t need millions of dollars,” Chloe wrote. “You just need three things – love, passion and hope. To me, that is a big gift.”