Thomas Crossroads girls raise money for Haiti victims

Red Cross volunteer Tracey Crane receives a check for $1,400 for Haiti’s earthquake victims from Thomas Crossroads Elementary School 4th graders Riley Scruggs and Taylor Racht. The two girls initiated the “Pennies for the Poor” project at the school and raised the funds over a 10-day period.

It is always relevant for a person to think of the plight of others and go into action to lend a hand. Such an action is no less significant when it is born in the minds and hearts of two 4th graders. And that is what happened as Thomas Crossroads Elementary School students Taylor Racht and Riley Scruggs began the “Pennies for the Poor” effort that raised $1,400 for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Riley and Taylor began thinking about things they could do to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake after participating in a class conversation with special education teaching assistant Cyndi Butler about the catastrophic events that had unfolded on the island nation. It was from that conversation that the plan for the “Pennies for the Poor” project was born.

“Mrs. Butler was in our classroom and we started talking about the earthquake with her," Taylor explained, noting that she and Riley started thinking of ways they could collect money and came up with the idea for collecting coins in sandwich bags.

The girls publicized the project with daily announcements on the school’s morning news broadcast and put up posters around the school. 

“Our students responded to the crisis in Haiti by developing a plan to raise money for the relief effort, presenting their plan to the school's administration and then implementing the plan,” said Assistant Principal Julie Durrance. “They were self-directed and remarkably organized. We were very impressed with their efforts.”

Students also responded, returning the bags filled with coins and dollars. Within 10 days the girls had raised over $1,400 and later presented the money to American Red Cross volunteer Tracey Crane. 

Commenting on the project, Riley and Taylor said they were happy with the results. When they began the collections they thought they might raise as much as $800. Riley said she and Taylor were “very surprised” to see how much money had been collected.

"We went to Delta Credit Union and used the coin counter there. We were there for about an hour and a half counting coins,” Riley said.

It was once said that it is easy to sit up and take notice, but it is much more difficult to get up and take action. That is because action requires courage, diligence and tenacity. The actions by Riley Scruggs and Taylor Racht are a testimony to that premise. And from their efforts the lives of some of the people in a human tragedy will be a bit better off. That is because two little girls from a place the earthquake victims probably never heard of acted out of compassion and concern for a group of people that they will probably never meet.

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