When it comes to helping others, students in Our Lady of Good Counsel School don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk.
For 10 years, the Moorestown school has given its students a fun and creative way to assist charities of their choice through its “Just Do It Giving Club.” Along with learning about their chosen organizations, students spread the word and solicit donations by producing monthly informational videos, which can be viewed on YouTube and the school’s Facebook page.
Fifth-grade teacher Marcie Steel said the club began during the 2006-2007 school year as a way “to help students learn how to give back to society and practice philanthropy.” She noted the inspiration to form the club surfaced after she heard a piece on National Public Radio about a young girl who held a bake sale at school to raise money for an organization that frees slaves in Africa.
In a follow-up discussion with her class, she said, it was realized how “often we talk about things we want to do to help people or make a difference, but then we decided not to just talk but to ‘just do it.’”
Steel said the club comprises a group of fifth-through eighth-graders who serve as officers and liaisons. These students meet every Wednesday morning to review proposals submitted by student groups interested in producing a video as a way to raise money for a charity of their choice. A production day is held monthly, and students receive assistance in their video efforts.
To date, the club has raised more than $25,000. Some of the beneficiaries have included the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, American Cancer Society, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Burlington County Animal Welfare Society, Covenant House and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
One recent video that garnered great attention around the OLGC community was produced by seventh-graders Dylan Esser and James Sivley, who wanted to raise money for bulletproof Kevlar vests to be given to the canine units in the Pennsauken and Camden County Police Departments.
Noting that each of the vests costs more than $1,100 – and there are a total of nine active police dogs between the two units – Esser said, “These dogs go selflessly every day to do their job to protect the safety of the citizens. However, they have nothing to protect themselves. As part of giving back to my community, my hope is to provide enough funds to be able to purchase a canine Kevlar vest for each of these working dogs.”
“It is a small token of appreciation for the dedication and devotion they not only provide to their handlers, but also the citizens that they are protecting on a daily basis,” Esser said.
With assistance from their parents, namely Esser’s – who are owners of Rothman Animal Hospital, Collingswood – the boys held various fundraising projects to raise funds in the amount of $4,584.38. In addition to producing the YouTube video at school, they sold t-shirts with the “Kevlar for Kanine” logo and held games of chance where people could win gift baskets filled with veterinary products.
The K-9 police units from Pennsauken and Camden County also visited the boys’ school in November and held a demonstration for the student body on how the K-9 dogs work. Footage in their video includes clips from the demonstration.
Noting that he hopes all of his peers become involved in the “Just Do It Giving Club,” Esser said, “There are plenty of people and organizations out there that could use all of our help. I learned that with determination, guidance and help from others, you can accomplish anything you set out to do.”
Sivley added the club “allows people to make a difference,” he said, adding that among the many skills he learned was about time management, working together and “that I can make a difference a step at a time.”