Jessica Melchior and her third grade students at Jefferson Elementary decided that they didn't really need any more gifts this holiday season.
So, instead of exchanging grab bag gifts with each other, or having her students spend money to give her a present, Melchior suggested the class give gifts to people who really need thempeople from countries like Somalia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, where the gift of certain products could mean life rather than death.
The kids UNICEF helps need our money more than we need extra presents," said Shae Messemer, one of Melchior's students.
Through a program sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) called Inspired Gifts, the students found out their money could purchase real, lifesaving products like bed nets to keep mosquitoes away, and vaccines, and have them shipped directly to one of the more than 150 countries where UNICEF provides aid to children.
Founded in 1947, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports the work of the United Nations Children's Fund by raising money for its programs and increasing awareness of the challenges facing the children of the world. The organization considers itself part of a global effort to save, protect and improve children's lives.
Melchior's class raised $194.56 in their fundraising campaign. Many of the 20 class members designed colorful collection boxes, covered in glitter and construction paper, and went door-to-door with their parents asking for donations.
Erin Whiteley said she went door-to-door because she believed in the cause.
"With the money, we're able to buy a gift that will save children from getting very sick," said Whiteley.
Melchior said she was impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication her students had throughout the project. Several students gave up their recess time to stay in the classroom to decorate their donation boxes and to discuss what their money might buy.