While their fellow classmates run around playing tag during recess, six fifth-graders at Holy Family Catholic School sit down and brainstorm ideas on how to help people undergoing challenging circumstances.
The six youngsters — Zach Wolsonovich, Tatum Cempella, Liam Sweeney, Maria Lester, Annalise Blomberg and Antonio Andoretto — are the members of what they officially started calling the Reach Out Committee. The committee started three years ago, when the students were in second grade. Their first project was to organize a toy sale, all proceeds of which were donated to an orphanage in Ethiopia for school materials and food.
Since then, the young group of do-gooders now makes a habit out of organizing charitable projects with the guidance of Principal Sister Dorothy Sayers.
“I really believe that somehow these children can see the bigger picture,” said Tana Little, marketing director at HFCS. “While most kids are taking selfies, these kids are being selfless, and I believe that they really will get more out of life by helping other people. ... You can see these kids really have a mature outlook on life, and they really have it in their hearts to give back.”
When seeking a cause to help next, the students keep their eyes and ears open to local and international news and mutually decide what they’d like to do. They then propose the idea to the principal for approval and invent a strategy to involve others’ interest and donations.
Their biggest initiative, so far, has been the Fishbowl Project. To help starving children in Uganda, they raised $2,000 to aid the Villa Maria Children’s Foundation in building fish farms. Another project they took on, this one closer to home, was the fundraising of $1,700 to help victims of the Aug. 12 Louisiana flood.
“(Zach Wolsonovich) just came in that Monday, and said, ‘Sister can we please do something to help these people?’” Little said. “They’re always – all of them – thinking of others.”
The committee’s most recent project helped Spanish teacher Thiby Sierra, who discovered she had breast cancer. The committee collected $600 for her treatment, promoted her GoFundMe page and wrote dozens of get-well cards.
“We always pick topics that are important to us. ... One of our Spanish teachers got cancer, and we all love her to death, so we felt it was really important for us to help her,” said Wolsonovich, president of the Reach Out Committee.
Both Wolsonovich and Cempella, vice president of the committee, participate in the committee simply because they love helping others. Cempella enjoys watching the positive effect their good deeds has on others.
“It makes me feel good, because we get to help people from all around the world,” Cempella said.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].