The youth students spent the last four weeks working with high school Youth Advisory Council members learning what philanthropy means and how anyone can be involved.
“It was definitely good,” said fifth-grader Alaina Voss. “I learned a lot about ways to help others.” She said it made her feel proud of herself and her class when they presented a canister filled with their donations to a local charity. In all, Page students presented six different charities with a total of $914.52 in funds.
Jillian Foster from the Barry community Foundation said she was very impressed by the student responses. “For the organizations, it helps them realize they are getting funds from all levels of the community. Remember it’s not necessarily about the dollar amount. This is a lifelong lesson in giving and getting young people excited about giving and seeing how every penny can help,” said Foster. “It’s also important for them to realize it’s not just about giving financially. People can donate their time and talents as well.”
High school students met with the fifth-graders for four weeks to talk about philanthropy and how everyone can make a difference. Different local organizations were discussed and then each classroom selected two organizations to come and make presentations about what they do, how donations are used and what kinds of things they need. Classes then voted on one charity to support with donations.
Fifth-grader Marcus Barnes said he walked the dog and took care of his neighbor’s dog and gave some of his money to Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force. Some students said they did extra chores to earn money while others gave a portion of their allowance or money they had saved.
Rylan Conroy said the class donations to United Way can help change people’s lives. “I liked it. It made me feel good,” said Conroy.
Classmates Emerson Pratt and Paige Sheely agreed. “I took out the trash and got the mail and tried to keep my room cleaner,” said Emerson of her efforts to earn money to donate. “It just made me feel good to be able to help someone who doesn’t have everything they need.”
This is the 13th year of the program at Page Elementary School. It’s something that not only gives the younger students a chance to practice philanthropy, but also a reminder for high school students to continue making philanthropy a part of their life.
High school student Reese Verlinde said she remembers the program from when she was in fifth grade. “I think it’s definitely been improved over the years and these kids really get a chance to make a difference,” she said.
Senior Aiden Hannapel said he was impressed with the overall level of giving. “I like showing how much of an impact we can have when we help others - even if it’s only a little bit or volunteering your time,” he said.
“I liked just seeing the joy on their faces when we would come and talk to them (the 5th graders). They look up to us as role models,” said YAC member Natalie Alden.
The hope is that the circle of giving will continue as fifth-graders share their experiences and continue giving. Bennett Halle said he remembers when he was in fifth grade and his older brother Braedon came to his classroom to talk about the circle of giving. “Now I’m getting to continue the circle of giving and help other fifth-graders learn about giving back to others.”