“We’re doing this because we want to help,” says Cherokee Elementary fifth-grader Jessica Reder. And that’s why a group of students at Cherokee are holding a baked goods booth at Cheetahfest,the school’s fall festival. Pictured here are Kaitlyn Johnson, Ellie Tito and Jessica, who are working together to raise money for a friend.
Their motivation is Charley, a three-year-old family friend who was born with a chromosomal disorder called Gorlins Syndrome. Charley spent the first year of her life living atChildren's Hospital of Philadelphia where she underwent stem cell and chemotherapy treatments and is currently again in the hospital, fighting lung issues.
“The girls’ kindness and determination to help area real inspiration,” states Cherokee Elementary Principal Valerie Montgomery. “Not only have they thought through the best way to raise the money, but they have incorporated several ways to ensure Charley and her family know that people here care. I’m proud of them and this great work they’re doing. Their spirit is part of what Cheetah P.R.I.D.E. is all about.”
P.R.I.D.E. is the school's Positive Behavior Suppport (PBS) program for developing character qualities in students and is a model used throughout Lakota.
Knowing the high medical expenses the family faces, Jessica wanted to help – and, through her enthusiasm, recruited several other students to help. So the group of four – Jessica, her younger sister Lucy Reder, a third-grader at Cherokee; and Kaitlyn Johnson and Ellie Tito, also fifth-graders – approachedMontgomery with their proposal to sell baked goods and bracelets at the event.
In addition to the booth at Cheetahfest, the school is able to accept cash and check donations on behalf of Charley's family.
“At first we thought of holding a running race, but then decided selling stuff at Cheetahfest might raise more money,” says Kaitlyn. The girls have been planning their event for about three months and have a goal of raising $1,000, with all proceeds going to Charley’s family.
“We even decided we should have something for people who won’t want to buy a cookie,” adds Ellie, explaining the addition of the bracelets. And the bracelets serve another purpose – to remind the wearer to think of Charley and send good wishes her way.
“Charley’s colors are grey and purple, so that’s our theme,” says Jessica. “We wanted her to know what we’re doing even though she’s in the hospital, so we put together a package that her family will open. She can wear her bracelet and read the cards and know that all of this is to support her.”