Students at Saline Middle School moved Tammi Carr to tears when they presented the results of their service learning projects benefitting The ChadTough Foundation.
These sixth-graders were part of a bigger initiative led by teachers Joanna Mierkowicz, Tina D’Andrea, and Emily Palka, in which they were asked to select a local nonprofit and come up with a service project to execute during the holiday season.
In addition to ChadTough projects, students made blankets for pets at the Humane Society, and collected supplies for other organizations: food and supplies for the Humane Society, coloring books and crayons for Mott Children’s Hospital, and books and breakfast items for Saline Area Social Services.
Joanna Mierkowicz spoke to her students on Friday during a celebratory pizza party donated by Mancino’s.
“You’re making a difference in other people’s lives — or other pets’ lives — and that’s really important work,” she said. “We hope that you continue to give more than you get — that was our big goal with this.”
A Ripple Effect
Having seen the power of giving back through her work with The ChadTough Foundation, Tammi Carr recognizes the positive impact service projects can have on young people — both in and through them.
“Every one of you has the power to do something spectacular to make a difference in someone’s life, and that can change the world,” she said. “It’s called a ripple effect. One thing you do can impact someone, who impacts someone else, who impacts someone else, and you just never know where that’s going to lead.”
The five service projects that benefitted The ChadTough Foundation included penny wars, a bottle and can drive, creating ornaments for children fighting Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), making paper airplanes for the ChadTough gala, and painting awareness rocks.
Penny wars is a fundraiser that is easy and fun for anyone to participate in.
The students leading this project — Brady, Eric, Nick, and Stephen — set one fundraising jar in each classroom. Coins counted as positive points and bills counted as negative points. Students could put coins in their own classroom jar and bills in other classrooms’ jars as strategy to win.
The boys set a goal of $200 … they had $400 at the end of the first week. They accumulated so much money, in fact, they had to stay after school multiple days just to count it.
“Our hands were black at the end,” said Brady, “(but) we knew that we were doing it for a good cause – so children don’t have to suffer through DIPG.”
The final total the group presented to Tammi Carr: $1,054.
Bottle and Can Drive
Alex, Ayden, Case, Jackson, and Preston held a can and bottle drive, creating flyers to distribute in their neighborhoods and even getting their parents to help by posting on social media.
When it came time to turn in the bottles and cans, they got together for the sticky job. Together, they raised $563 for The ChadTough Foundation.
“It was my group’s pleasure to be able to donate to your cause,” said Jackson, before presenting the check to Tammi.
Ornaments for DIPG Families
Devin, Katelynn, Landon, and Owen created ornaments for DIPG families, mailing them to their homes for the holiday season.
“This made us feel good about ourselves because we knew that the children around the world would feel acknowledged and just like they’re any normal kid,” said Devin.
After mailing ornaments to DIPG families, they had extra, so they gave them to children at a local hospital.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to those kids to get mail and to get something special for them,” said Tammi. “That was one of Chad’s favorite things, when he got mail.”
Derek, Gracie, Jonah, Leo, Noah, Owen, and Spencer created paper airplanes for the 3rd Annual Champions for Change Gala, which will take place in May. This year’s gala will feature 4,600 paper airplanes, representing the number of children who die from DIPG each year.
The group created 350 paper airplanes for the event.
“(When) we realized that each plane represents one child that dies each year from DIPG, (we knew) they should be made very carefully,” said Gracie.
Addison, Ally, Cora, Dominic, Jake, Olivia, Owen, and Riley painted awareness rocks for The ChadTough Foundation. The goal of awareness rocks is to spark interest in ChadTough and DIPG by leaving them in public places for individuals to find.
Addison is going to Chicago for winter break and is planning to leave rocks there.
“The one thing that I got from this project is that there is someone in California right now spreading rocks around,” said Addison. “I think it’s moving to know that there is someone around the country (who knows) about this foundation and (is helping) them.”
What Can One Person Do?
This project is a true testament to the power of “one person” and — even more — the power of young people. Whether the students focused on ChadTough or another organization, the way they embraced the spirit of giving moved the adults who witnessed what they did.
”I love the passion that all of you had, I love the dedication to this cause,” said Joanna Mierkowicz. “Congratulations to all of you.”