Fighting for babies' health has become a regular thing for the students at Cartersville Elementary School.
Last Friday, the school's National Elementary Honor Society chapter kicked off its third annual March for Babies campaign for the March of Dimes during two afternoon assemblies, and CES's third-, fourth- and fifth-graders as well as the faculty and staff are hoping to again earn the title of top fundraising school in the state at the end of the two-week fundraiser.
"We are excited about this year’s campaign," NEHS co-adviser A.J. Wilson said. "CES loves a good challenge, and we want to replicate, and maybe surpass, the success from last year."
During the first two campaigns, students raised more than $27,000 for the March of Dimes, Wilson said.
"I have no doubt that our third year is going to dramatically add to that total as well," the fourth-grade teacher said. "Last year, CES students raised more than any other school in the state. We believe CES will continue with that tradition. We are only on the third day [Tuesday] of the campaign, and I have students coming to tell me they have raised $100 or $200. They blow my mind every year."
The annual fundraiser is the schoolwide spring service project for the CES chapter of NEHS, made up this year of 29 fourth- and fifth-graders, according to co-adviser Natalie Carr.
Kirby Lewis-Hobba, development manager at March of Dimes, said Wilson, Carr and Principal Melissa Bates have done an outstanding job of helping the honor society members raise more than $10,000 each year.
"The energy Wilson provides alongside Carr's creativity and the youth leadership support of the NEHS bring this event greater success each year," she said. "They do a wonderful job educating the student body and motivating everyone to raise critical funds for March of Dimes as we lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies through local advocacy, education and research at our five Prematurity Research Centers across the country. The students and team at Cartersville Elementary School believe every dime makes a difference for the health of a baby and the life of a family, and they prove it every year with tremendous success."
At the kickoff assemblies — one for fourth grade and half of third grade and one for fifth grade and half of third grade — students entered while Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” blared through the speakers, and they watched a video on how March for Babies helps babies and their families.
"The Duncan family and their daughter, Riley — this year’s Bartow March for Babies ambassador — surprised students and attended both assemblies," Wilson said. "They shared their experience of when Riley was born, while behind them, Riley smiled, crawled and waved to students."
The organizers explained to students how to ask family and friends for donations and how to use the envelope they were given to collect the money, said Carr, an early intervention program teacher.
Students have other options for raising money as well.
"NEHS members voted and decided to have a Pajama Day on Friday, March 9, and a Hat Day on Thursday, March 15," Carr said. "Each student will pay $1 to participate."
Organizers planned a couple of incentives to keep students motivated throughout the two-week campaign.
"The Top 3 students that raise the most money schoolwide will get to have lunch at Chili’s with our principal," Carr said. "Also, Mrs. Bates has agreed to throw an ice cream party for the classrooms that raise the most money at each grade level."
She also said the top fundraising students can win individual prizes, cumulatively, ranging from a special-prize raffle ticket at the $5 level and a Fighting 4 Every Baby bracelet at the $10 level to a Razor scooter at the $750 level and a bicycle at the $1,000 level. They also receive an additional raffle ticket for each level they reach.
Teachers and staff members are getting into the act with their own incentives to donate, such as a jeans pass for the duration of the campaign, Carr said.
"Staff can pay $10 to wear jeans for one week or $15 for two weeks," she said. "Currently, staff has raised around $900. Mrs. Bates agreed to auction off three parking spaces for staff, and we raised $400 on March 5. Next week, we plan to auction off teacher planning days. Also, the teacher’s class that raises the most money schoolwide will win their teacher a trip to attend the lunch at Chili’s."
Faculty and staff will be carrying donation buckets during car drop-off and pickup to "encourage parents to throw in their extra change," she added.
Wilson said the campaign will end next Friday with a hero walk and balloon release.
"Like last year, the student body will line the halls of CES," she said.“'Fight Song' will be playing on the intercom system. We will announce the Top 3 and Top 10 money raisers in the building, the raffle-ticket winner for the Green Machine and the classroom that raised the most money for each grade level."
Carrying balloons and wearing hero capes, the Top 10 fundraisers will do a hero walk through the hallways as their classmates cheer them on, and at the end of the march, the heroes will release their balloons on the playground, Wilson said.
"I even hear there may be a special leprechaun guest," she added.
Wilson said she hopes the school will surpass its 2017 fundraising total.
"We have high expectations after last year when we raised over $15,000," she said. "We’ve added several incentives from last year and are hoping it helps us to have another outstanding campaign."
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