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Students at St. Joseph's School
Students at St. Joseph's School in Quincy, Massachusetts raised over $3000 for tsunami relief efforts.
(Photo: Karen Johnston)
Dancing for a Cause

When students at St. Joseph's School in Quincy, Massachusetts, heard about the devastation caused by the tsunami, they thought about what they could do to help.

"I asked them, 'How about a sock hop?'" recalls Karen Johnston, a parent of a second-grader, "From there, it just exploded!"

Sock hops are dances that were popular in the 1950s. They were held on the wooden floor of gymnasiums. To protect the floor, students weren't allowed to wear dress shoes. The students at St. Joseph's prepared for their tsunami sock hop by turning the gym into a dance floor and the cafeteria into an old-fashioned soda shop, complete with root-beer floats. Local companies pitched in too. Domino's Pizza provided the food, and Johnny Rockets contributed uniforms for the "soda shop." Organizations that contributed contest prizes included the Boston Red Sox, Six Flags, New Balance, and the Boston Aquarium. By the end, more than 35 sponsors made contributions.

"We even got an acknowledgement from [President] Bush for them," said Mrs. Johnston.

A week before the big event, a blizzard blanketed the region in snow. The students were off from school the entire week, but organizers decided not to cancel the dance.

When the big day arrived, students, family, faculty, and friends poured into the school. Admission was $2 per person. Students had also worked to collect pledges and donations for the event. That night, the school raised $2,122. Another $1,531.87 came in from students who were not able to attend. St. Joseph's School will now donate a total $3,653.87 to the American Red Cross International Response Fund during an upcoming school assembly.

Our Lady of Lourdes: Making a Difference

When students returned to Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic school in Long Island, New York, this year, many of them had the tsunami on their minds. Some of them had seen maps of where the tsunami had struck, and many had been watching the news at home.

"They were very anxious to come back and talk about it," said Elyse Scarfogliero, a fourth-grade teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes.

One of Ms. Scarfogliero's students brought money in on the first day, asking if the class could start a fund. A number of students and parents had similar questions for the school's staff. The school decided to allow each grade to work on a project of their choosing. The funds raised by students are going to the Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services.

One group of kindergarten students created inventions to sell. Another group is raising money by doing extra chores at home (the students call it KinderCares). Second-grade students are holding a cookie sale, while fourth-graders are selling crafts and collecting loose change. Fifth-graders are holding a class raffle, and other grades are collecting money from students.

"Kids are proud," Ms. Scarfogliero said, "[The class projects] give them ownership."

To date, Ms. Scarfogliero's fourth-grade class has raised a total of $255 for tsunami relief efforts.

Dedicated to Service

Tsunami relief is not the only service project the class has taken on this school year. They wrote letters to four military units in Iraq and have sent them supplies.

"They are used to it," said Ms. Scarfogliero. "As a school, we're always looking for things we can do in the community."

A Fifth Grader in Up State New York

Rebecca Dibble, 10, was watching the tsunami-disaster coverage on the news and wanted to do something to help. Her mom suggested that they make a donation, but Rebecca didn't think sending a check was enough. "Sending money was too easy," recalls Rebecca.

"I felt very sorry for the people in Asia and I wanted to help," says the fifth-grader. With her family's help, the Rebecca Relief Effort was formed. The idea was to send care packets with items covering basic needs to the people recovering from the horrible tragedy. The care packets include items such as toothpaste, washcloths, combs, toothbrushes, soap, and bandages. With the help of the Church World Service organization, the items will be shipped to the tsunami-hit areas in Asia.

Rebecca rallies support for contributions by speaking to different local organizations in her area of Binghamton, New York. She sends flyers to different schools in her area asking classes to pitch in to help. She also places flyers in the windows of businesses in town. Rebecca is confident that she will be able to collect her goal of 1,000 care packets by the middle of February.

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