Mansfield Public Schools Grade 4 Students Do Their Part by Launching Fundraiser to Support Local Businesses and Thank Windham Hospital Essential Workers
Grade 4 students in Mansfield who are attending school remotely this school year have launched a series of “passion” projects designed to benefit others. Under the guidance of Mansfield Schools teacher Madison Corlett, students are launching an initiative to support local Mansfield businesses while also benefitting essential workers at Windham Hospital which serves the region.
With a goal to raise $5,000, this group of students representing all three Mansfield elementary schools launched a Go Fund Me page and is seeking donations from the community. They set a goal to help local businesses who they had heard were struggling as a result of the pandemic. Ms Corlett facilitated virtual meetings between the students and Mansfield Downtown Partnership Executive Director Cynthia van Zelm to brainstorm the best way to help local businesses. Through this conversation the concept of purchasing gift cards for essential workers emerged as a win-win to benefit two groups impacted by the pandemic.
Ms Corlett asked her students to articulate why this project is important. One student named Theodore shared, “The reason why I wanted to help small businesses and essential workers is because the small businesses that we are planning on helping are probably struggling, and they need our help. Why I agreed to the idea of helping essential workers by getting them gift cards is simple: they have been working SO hard, and they deserve a lift, a gift card!”
Another student, Fareedah says, “The reason I wanted to help small business is I felt like they were struggling to get back on their feet because of the pandemic. I also felt like it was our generation's job to help the small business.” Lucy, another grade 4 student, expressed, “I wanted to help out businesses because I thought it would be really interesting to see how this fundraiser helps businesses, and how the businesses would regain or get more money and support to keep their business going!”
Mansfield Superintendent of Schools Kelly Lyman is not surprised that Mansfield students came up with this idea. “In our district, we focus on providing authentic experiences that build life skills, and help find opportunities for students to apply what they are learning. It is part of our core beliefs that our school and community are strengthened when we work together, each contributing to the success of the other,” she says. “This collaboration between our students with the Mansfield Downtown Partnership demonstrates how positive things can happen when we work together. It may have started with the students’ simple idea to help businesses, but they learned how to research and seek out resources to bring the idea to fruition. I commend Ms Corlett for setting the expectation for these virtual students that is aligned with our commitment to developing 21st century skills.”
Ms van Zelm was moved by the experience of collaborating with the students. “As we come up on a year of restrictions on restaurant service and challenges with reduced foot traffic in our brick and mortar shops, it is heartwarming to hear these students ask, ‘How can we help?’” she says. “The impact that coronavirus has had on our local economy is real. I hope their youthful spirit will fuel the flames of the Buy in Mansfield movement throughout the new year. If all of our citizens support these young students and their project by donating to purchase gift cards, our retailers and restaurants will benefit, and so will these frontline health workers.”
The student group is also seeking input on what local businesses should be included when it’s time to purchase gift cards. The fundraiser is called Small Business Gift Cards For Essential Workers and can be accessed here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/small-business-gift-cards-for-essential-workers?qid=18e53053fe90caf17941a44490ca33a7
Mansfield’s fourth grade remote learning students have also coordinated other “passion projects” since November. For example, before the holidays they launched one focusing on four-legged friends seeking donations of dog crates and carriers, pet foods, kitty litter, and collars plus cash donations. Items collected will be donated to Our Companions sanctuary in Ashford and the Mansfield Animal Shelter. Donations may be dropped off at Southeast School on Warrenville Road/Rte. 89. The fourth graders also coordinated among their peers a holiday cards campaign, with even PreK students pitching in their creativity. As a result, they collected 229 cards for seniors at nursing homes and healthcare facilities in Mansfield and Tolland.