Fort Worth — When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in late October, one Keller district student decided to put compassion into action.“I saw all the devastation that happened, and I thought, ‘this is really bad. I have to help,’” said Emily Freimuth, a fifth-grader at Chisholm Trail Intermediate School.Emily wanted to set up a fundraiser at school to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.After talking to her teacher, Misti Bryant, and Assistant Principal Becky Wilder, Emily got permission to lead a drive for the American Red Cross.Wilder said that school officials helped Emily contact the Red Cross, and they learned that money would be the most useful donation, rather than conducting a drive for items.Emily enlisted the support of a friend and fellow fifth-grader Julia Donnelly to lead the drive they decided to call “$ents for Sandy.”The pair came up with a slogan, “Give change. Make a change,” created a video and website and even interviewed two students and a teacher who have family members in the area impacted by Sandy.The two also determined prizes and incentives for classes to receive.Classes that donated $50 could pick a day to wear hats to school; those that gave $100 earned extra time at recess.The winning class at each grade level got a pizza party, and the grade level that contributed the most could pick a silly costume for their assistant principal to wear at school.“The prizes did make people want to give,” Julia said.Julia brought in $150 from her Christmas and birthday money to give to the cause because she wanted to help the victims.Julia and Emily had relatives donate, and Emily brought in some change jars from her parents, as well as some of her own money.Wilder said the giving total started to climb more rapidly once classes began to earn incentives.Emily and Julia announced giving totals and awards on the morning announcements during the drive Jan. 14 to 31. The school raised $2,786.81 for the Red Cross.On the last day, $ents for Sandy received $647, and the fifth grade came from behind to win the competition.Emily said she gave a little pep talk to her classmates because she really wanted to see fifth grade Assistant Principal Jeff Harvath dress as a fairy princess ballerina riding a stick-horse unicorn.Harvath joked, “It seems like they had it out for me.”But he didn’t seem to mind donning the silly costume for a good cause.“The compassion on our campus is amazing and how much the students and everyone else bought into it and wanted to help out,” Harvath said.Wilder said that American Red Cross officials were scheduled to visit Chisholm Trail Intermediate on Feb. 27 to accept the check and applaud the effort.Emily said she learned a lot about how to organize a successful drive.“If I ever do a fundraiser again, I know how to do it,” she said.The effort brought Emily and Julia closer together as friends and helped them get to know teachers and administrators better.“It was a lot of work, but it really came together in the end, and it was worth it,” Emily said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland