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Elementary Schooler's Take Action for Kids in Ukraine

June 27, 2022

The war in Ukraine has left millions of children and their families in desperate need of safety, protection, and humanitarian support. With the crisis worsening daily, the need for support also increases. But in great times of need there are also those who want to help. UNICEF USA has seen an influx of fundraisers and events from our youngest citizens.

Elementary schoolers across the U.S. have demonstrated that children everywhere genuinely are the change we wish to see in the world. Many inspiring young supporters decided to show their support for the children of Ukraine. 

Here, we introduce you to some of them:

Making a difference - one penny at a time

Never underestimate the power of one person or one penny. When a group of like-minded people gets together behind a common cause, you can accomplish anything. - Principal of Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School

When the invasion of Ukraine first took place and the students of Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School in Freehold, New Jersey, saw the devastation happening to children and their families, they knew they had to help. They just weren't exactly sure how to. This changed when a first-grade student, Victoria, came to school one morning crying. When her classmates and teacher asked why she was upset, she explained that her grandparents were still in Ukraine and were living in fear in their basement. She shared that her parents had been watching the devastating news all day, crying about what was going on back home. After hearing this from Victoria, her classmates decided to take action.

Victoria, a student at Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School, in Freehold, New Jersey, holds the check for UNICEF after the Pennies for Peace fundraiser © photo courtesy of Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School

Together they created the "Pennies for Peace" initiative. The news of this class' fundraiser soon spread throughout the whole school. Students, staff, and parents donated their change to help the children of Ukraine. "We think many people wanted to help Ukrainians - they just didn't know how to. What stood out to the students was that you can never underestimate the power of just one person or just one penny. You can accomplish anything when a group of like-minded people gets together behind a common cause. After two weeks of collecting coins, Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School raised $10,500.01 and donated the total to support UNICEF's Ukraine emergency efforts.

Similarly, Fifth Grade students at Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, raised $2,465 for UNICEF after hosting a three-day Coin Drive during their school's annual "March Music Madness" event, donations from families and friends, and a fundraising event called "Craft for a Cause."

Fifth Graders at Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at their annual March Music Madness event © photo courtesy of Angell Elementary School

The students were so invested in their fundraiser that they researched and prepared slides to present and provide context to younger students about their fundraiser, while others even gave up recess to monitor the Coin Drive table. 

A Pie-In-Face Fundraiser makes an Impact

The students went absolutely wild. They wrote commercials daily to announce to the student body over the intercom to encourage their classmates to donate. They also stood in the car drop-off/pick-up line and collected money, encouraging the school community to help them reach their goal. - Principal Cassell

Over in Terre Haute, Indiana, at Dixie Bee Elementary School, students raised funds by rallying their community to donate to children in Ukraine. They even convinced their principal to have a pie thrown in her face if they met their goal of $1000. This was a successful strategy as over $2,100 was raised in the end. About what inspired her involvement in this fundraiser Principal Cassell responded that “there is no better feeling than knowing you are making a difference in the lives of those who do not have all the benefits that you may have."

Students from Dixie Bee Elementary School in Terre Haute, Indiana, promote their fundraiser for Ukraine at the car drop-off line © photo courtesy of Dixie Bee Elementary School 

“We knew we could trust that UNICEF would use the money we raised appropriately to help those most in need. The response of our school community was overwhelmingly positive. The student members went absolutely wild. They wrote commercials daily to announce to the student body over the intercom to encourage their classmates to donate. They also stood in the car drop-off/pick-up line and collected money, encouraging the school community to help them reach their goal. They all wholeheartedly agreed that it was the best part of being a member of Dixie Bee’s student council this year.” she continued.

Dixie Bee Elementary School's principal before having a pie thrown in her face as part of the school's fundraiser to help children in Ukraine © photo courtesy of Dixie Bee Elementary School 

Kids educate their community to raise necessary funds

At Franklin Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, students hosted a "Charge for Ukraine" event, raising $1,500 for the children of Ukraine. Students discussed the war amongst each other and decided they wanted to raise awareness and raise funds.

The message we would like to send to other volunteers is to believe in the generosity of children; they want to help other children. Just jump in with both feet and let the stories move you. - Teachers, Ms. Sweeney and Mr. Ramirez

Teachers at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, hold up a check to help the children of Ukraine after their students hosted the "Charge for Ukraine" event © photo courtesy of Franklin Elementary School 

The Franklin community was eager to help and the students were motivated to donate, with one second-grader even asking her mom to take out $25 from her savings account. Similarly, a third-grader handing over a handful of coins shared, "this is all I could give, but I really wanted to help." When asked what they would want to say to other volunteers looking to help, two Franklin teachers, Ms. Sweeney and Mr. Ramirez answered, "The message we would send to other volunteers is to believe in the generosity of children; they want to help other children. Just jump in with both feet and let the stories move you. Your compassion and generosity will go a long way to comfort those in need. Anything counts and makes a difference." 

The Franklin Community was eager to help and had a positive response from the beginning. Their children were motivated to donate. A second grader asked her mom if she could take $25 dollars out from hersavings account to donate. A third grader shared, “This is all I could give, but I really wanted to help.”, handing over a hand full of coins. -Franklin Elementary School

Looking to host your own fundraiser?

Take a look at UNICEF USA's Help During Emergencies one-pager for guidance. Once you’re ready, you can register your fundraiser by filling out our Fundraiser & Event form!

 

Top image: Students at Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School, in Freehold, New Jersey, celebrate after their successful "Pennies for Peace" fundraiser, where they raised $10,500.01 for the children of Ukraine © photo courtesy of Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School