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A Lesson in Philanthropy, Taught by 6th-graders

How do you turn $2 into $8,500?

Lemonade stands, cupcake sales, a backyard movie night, and peddling painted rocks and bracelets are just a few ways. Student-run businesses recently popped up around town as sixth-graders took $2 (plus some investment from parents and piggy banks) and turned it into thousands for Hurricane Harvey relief.

M&Ms and Snickers sales added up for Kyan VanderWoude

To make the fundraiser a lesson in economics and entrepreneurship, Kraft Meadows Middle School teachers gave each of their 180 students $2, challenging them to make the money grow over two weeks for people in the Houston area affected by Hurricane Harvey. Teacher Todd DeJong said the staff first set a goal to raise $1,000, and when it became clear that students would easily surpass that, they bumped it to $5,000.

Total raised: $8,500 donated through Red Cross. “The most important lesson we learned in teaching entrepreneurship to kids is ‘get out of the way.’ Let them do it,” DeJong said. “It’s about a creative mind and motivation. We said ‘this is what these people are dealing with’ and the motivation was real.”

Donations resulted in carts of collected pop cans for Alicia Rice, left, and Kenzie Meyers

Sixth-graders Laney Peterson, Angela Harvey and Brooke Bundschuh raised $525 by hosting a backyard movie night, complete with concessions, in their neighborhood. Micah Nagel, Cohen Broomfield, Lydia Rushlow and Sophia Carl raised $420 by hosting a bake sale and concession stand. They said they learned that raising money takes a lot of thought and organization.

“It’s not just selling it. You have to organize, plan, and then you have do it. It’s more than you think it is,” said Lydia about the effort.

Sydney Miller sold cupcakes and painted rocks, and also collected pop cans, raising $375 by herself. She said she liked making money for a cause. “Helping others is better in a lot of ways because it makes you feel good,” she said.

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Other ways students have raised money for hurricane relief

Emery Rewa, Lauren Kosiorowski were among students who sold food, trinkets and other items
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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