The students in Ms. MaryBeth Peterson's 7th grade social studies class at Welsh Valley Middle School didn't just read about the destruction that Hurricane Dorian brought to the Bahamas. They made a big difference for a family who moved to Philadelphia after losing their home and business in the storm.
The students decided that they wanted to help families who had lost so much on the islands where several of them had vacationed with their own families. At first, they thought they'd raise money to donate to the American Red Cross. But then, a representative from the Caribbean Community of Philadelphia and Bahamas Philadelphia Foundation helped them connect to the Simms family. The Simms chose Philadelphia to be near a family member who was already in the city, studying at the University of Pennsylvania.
The WVMS students sold hot cocoa and raffle tickets and held a walkathon to raise nearly $8000 for the Simms. When students learned that a child in the family was interested in science, they obtained passes to the Franklin Institute and donated a slime-making kit. They also collected gift cards, clothing and a big stuffed animal.
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, the students finally met members of the family and presented them with the money and other gifts. 6abc Action News was at the presentation and is set to feature the students on the evening news. As a thank you, the Simms presented the students with a Bahamian flag.
In their interviews, the students said they didn't want to just collect money, but they also wanted their classmates to understand the longterm impact of the storm on the residents of the Bahamas. And they described how this philanthropic effort made them want to continue help others.
Members of the Simms family said they were not only thankful for the students' generosity, but also very impressed with how the students had organized the fundraisers themselves. And they invited the students to visit them once they are able to rebuild. The emotional presentation ended with a group hug among the students and the family.
To see photos from this memorable afternoon, you can click through the slide show below:
LMSD's Strategic Plan, "All Forward," provides a framework for a collective, intentional and positive approach to change. Its five aspirational pathways guide us toward continual innovation and transformation to further educational excellence for every student. The Welsh Valley students' fundraising work is a student-driven example of Strategic Pathway #5: A Spirit of Community. To learn more about #LMSDAllForward and the Strategic Pathways, click here.