PERU - Second grade students from Peru Primary School have proven you don't have to be big to make a big impact in the lives of others.
The students came together recently to raise $4,562 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., taking part in the nonprofit hospital's Math-A-Thon fundraising program. The event, coordinated locally by retired educator Sherry Beaubriand, involved more than 60 students solving math problems in a 15-page booklet provided by St. Jude. The students raised money through sponsorships from friends and family, who pledged to donate a certain amount per problem solved or make a one-time donation.
"The St. Jude Math-A-Thon not only encourages our students to work math problems, but it teaches the importance of helping others," Beaubriand said. "Students realize that they can make a difference and they are learning math at the same time."
"It's such a good thing because it gets kids to help other kids and it's a good community project for them," she added.
The Math-A-Thon wasn't held in any particular place, said Beaubriand. Students were able to take their books home to work on the problems at their own pace. That, of course, was in addition to their regular classwork.
"So, it was actually extra work for them," said Beaubriand.
When hearing the words "extra work," Beaubriand said one would likely think there would be hesitation to participate. That hasn't been the case in the 13 years the school has taken part in the annual event.
"These kids are wonderful. I have not had a year when these kids have groaned or moaned over this," she said. "They take right to it and are just so happy to help these other kids."
Students in Johnna Benware's class raised the most money - $800 to be exact - earning them a pizza party Feb. 6. As they ate their pieces of pepperoni and cheese pizzas, some couldn't help but share how happy they were to help.
"It feels good helping the kids at St. Jude and it's fun helping them," said Olivia Bousquet. "It makes me feel real good."
"When I helped St. Jude's hospital, it felt really good," added Rethalynn Swift.
"I felt like I saved everybody in the whole world," said Allison Beattie.
Benware said she was proud of her students for taking the project to heart, knowing it would help them academically and help them understand compassion for others with childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.
"It's children helping children, but at the same time, it's helping them in the classroom," said Benware. "It's the perfect school fundraiser."
Students in Benware's class and other second grade classes at Peru Primary School will receive prizes for the different levels at which they raised money.