A few dozen kindergartners from Myers Park Traditional Elementary School fidgeted in their seats, raising their hands to ask a question or playing with the handmade paper-flower crowns atop their heads. The children were eager to learn more about the American Red Cross, the nonprofit for which they’d recently raised $2,000.
“Who do firefighters rescue first, pets or humans?” one young student asked Dan Ogburn, a representative from the Red Cross.
“What is a paramedic?” asked another.
“How long does it take you to get to work?” came a third question.
These students are part of Irma Boyd’s class. Boyd has organized an annual fundraiser called the “Flower Fun Store” for the Red Cross for the past 18 years. Over the years, her efforts have brought in more than $20,000 for the Greater Carolinas Chapter.
“Students and their parents make paper flowers and then sell them at a booth at the school,” Boyd explained. The flowers, bursting with color, are the size of basketballs, and the students enjoy showing them off to visitors. “The kids also learn a bit about mathematics and inventory management through the project.”
On June 4, Ogburn visited the Myers Park school to teach the students about how the money they raised will be put to good use through the Red Cross.
“This money is going to help people right here in our community,” he told them. “Unfortunately, sometimes there are houses that catch on fire. And because of your donation, the Red Cross is going to be there to help the families that live in those houses.”
Boyd is very familiar with Red Cross services. In fact, it’s the reason she started the fundraiser. An earthquake in the early 1970s displaced Boyd and her family from their home. Red Cross Disaster Services was there to help. Later, the Red Cross was able to provide emergency communication between her family in the U.S. and her brother, who was serving in the military overseas.
Boyd wanted to do something to give back to the organization that had been there for her family during troubling times.
She began by showing her students clips of people who have been affected by major disasters. The students said they wanted to help, and came up with suggestions such as giving clothes or food, while the other students suggested donating money. And thus, the idea for the “Flower Fun Store” was born.
During the project, students learn about what the American Red Cross does as well as some key safety tips. During Ogburn’s visit, one of the young students reminded her class that “we should use the back of our hand during the fire to check the door knob.”
According to Boyd, this initiative will not only help the students academically but will also help them realize the importance of helping others.
Boyd noted other classes in the school started doing activities to help other organizations after seeing the success of the “Flower Fun Store.” For example, the first-graders at Myers Park collected 508 pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Backpack Program. Second-graders organized a drive for new or gently-used shoes for Soles-4-Souls, an organization created after the Hurricane Katrina.
Boyd said in addition to the “Flower Fun Store” the kindergarten class also takes up the “Reading for the Red Cross” in which the children collected donations for the amount of time spent reading or being read to for one week. Greta Davis co-chaired the effor for this initiative, which has raised about $1,000 for the Red Cross.
“It’s great to see young people such as these students realize the importance of helping their neighbors,” Ogburn said. “The Red Cross is truly grateful for everything Mrs. Boyd and her class do.”