When middle school students at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School learned about the recent Toys for Tots burglary, they immediately opened up their hearts and their wallets, said seventh grade teacher Ashia Smith.
In just over a week, 225 students rallied to collect $782.41 in addition to the toys the school had already collected for Toys for Tots. Smith, who organized the event with students, said it is a great accomplishment considering the background of many of their students.
“We are a title one school, and it’s very possible that some of those students (needing Toys for Tots) could be our own students,” she said.
This isn’t the only time the school has stepped up to help the community. Throughout the year, students assist with various projects including recently raising over $1,000 for Augusta Warrior Project, visiting the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, holding a pajama drive for low-income families and raising money and awareness for juvenile diabetes.
“It’s part of our learning service focus and the kids taking the initiative to say this is a need in our community,” principal Aletha Snowberger said. “Kids are genuine. A lot of times they give without expecting anything in return and get joy out of doing it.”
Students did have a couple of incentives to collect money. Some students paid $1 to wear a hat, something they are normally not permitted to do. But the biggest motivator came from being able to place money in containers with teachers’ names on them. The teacher with the money in his or her container had to sing a song in front of the entire school at their Christmas program Thursday. Teachers went into survival mode and encouraged students to vote for other teachers, Snowberger said.
It was organizer and fundraising enthusiast Smith who won the privilege to perform Do You Hear What I Hear? in front of her peers and students, although, fellow teacher Jasmine Sims lent a hand. Smith didn’t seem to mind, only focusing on the passionate drive of her students.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Smith said. “I’m so proud of them.”