Streams Elementary celebrates 10 years of charity

Published Feb 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Updated Feb 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm)

It’s been 10 years since a small group of parents approached Streams Elementary School principal, Dr. Claire Miller, with the idea of developing a child-focused, child-driven charity event.

Their goal was a simple one: to expose the students at Streams to other children in need and to show how the students, themselves, could make a difference. With great enthusiasm, and the slogan “A Simple Act Can Make a Difference,” the first Streams’ “Children for Children” event took shape, raising $2,000 for UNICEF Tsunami Relief.

Since then, students at this small Upper St. Clair school have raised more than $53,000 for a variety of charities, including Katrina School Fund ($3,000), CORE Organ ($6,000), Dominican Republic Outreach Program ($6000), Heifer International ($7289), National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple ($6000), Casey’s Clubhouse ($9000), Charity Water ($8,000), and Jameson’s Army, Grady’s All Stars, and The Education Partnership ($6,588).

Dr. Miller said that she is delighted with the success of Children for Children and how involved the parents, staff, and especially the students themselves are with event. “It’s a great way to celebrate their talents and their way to make a difference.”

Proceeds from this year’s event, held on Feb. 20, will go to Global Links, an organization that was started 25 years ago as a way help medically underserved communities throughout the world and to deal with the problem of increasing wasted medical surplus from American hospitals. Based in Greentree, the group works to ensure collection of surplus medical supplies and deliver this surplus to communities that didn’t even have the means to provide the most basic care to their people.

Dr. Miller said the suggestion to have Global Links as this year’s charity came from a former student’s inquiry exposition project on the organization. Since the group is local, students will have the opportunity to visit the Global Links warehouse and help package items for shipment.

“It blends an international and local connection,” said Dr. Miller, “and it gives the students a chance to see the organization from the ground up.”

Stacy Bodow, community engagement manager for Global Links, was at Streams Elementary School the night of the event and commented on the energy of everyone involved and how much the students knew about the charity.

Children are at the center of this event, and pre-event activities are educationally focused and include classroom tie-ins to discuss the charity at age appropriate levels. Students donate auction items like knitted scarves, babysitting service, cookies they made, yard work, their favorite books, a vase they painted, or a piece of artwork. In addition, students participate in working the event and help decorate, work stations, sell tickets and run games.

Teachers, staff and administrators also participate. Part of the planning committee, they encourage and administer the classroom tie-ins, donate services (like an ice cream outing or bowling event), plan items donated by their classroom (like hand painted chairs or decorated book bins full of classroom favorites), and help run the event.

Hallie Snyder was this year’s parent chairperson for the event. With four children in Upper St. Clair schools, Snyder said that the Children for Children silent auction was her favorite event at Streams. “It’s a lifelong learning experience for the students, one where they learn they can make an impact in the world.”

In addition to students from Streams helping with the event, a number of middle school students and even a high school student volunteered for the event. Sydney Lisak, a fifth grade student at Boyce Middle School said she was glad to see her old school and old teachers again.

But there’s another reason this event has been so successful for past decade, as summarized by Streams’ fourth grade students Lilly Lund and Hannah Hardy: “It’s really fun!”

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