By Jim Newell
Smile Big. You are special. Be Brave. You are awesome. Happy.
Or maybe just a brightly colored rainbow and a big smiley face. That says it all.
These are just some of the messages and images that students at Blanche Sims Elementary are drawing as part of Serving the Needs of Others in Winter, or SNOW.
The students have been making unique, colorful cards to send to children who are currently hospitalized and to those who will be over the holidays.
Blanche Sims PTO president Ambyr Valko said she is impressed with the cards and sentiments the kids are writing. The PTO has been administering the card collections and accompanying fundraiser.
“The kids have been making really genuine, heartfelt, beautiful handmade cards for kids who are hospitalized right now. We are working with a non-profit called Cards for Hospitalized Kids to get those distributed,” Valko said. “And we were asking the parents and grownups in our community to pay it forward by making a donation to our PTO so our little Title I school can continue to get all the extras that make it really special.”
Cards for Hospitalized Kids is “an internationally recognized charitable organization that spreads hope, joy & magic to hospitalized kids across America through uplifting, handmade cards,” according to the group’s website, cardsforhospitalizedkids.com.
The charitable organization began in 2011 and has distributed cards to more than 100,000 kids in all 50 states. Charitable groups, schools, organizations and individuals can contribute cards – either holiday-themed or general cards – and request cards from the Cards for Hospitalized Kids.
“The kids have been so excited. We’ve been collecting cards every day in Candice the Card Monster. They come every morning with handfuls and every day after school with handfuls and they feed Candice.”
Valko said parents have told her that their kids are so excited they make them check the fundraising status every day to see if they’ve reached their goal.
“And I hear the cheers when Principal Nuss makes the morning announcements and tells them where they are at with their goals. It’s really heartwarming.”
The fundraiser part of SNOW kicked off on World Kindness Day, Nov. 13, and ends Dec. 1.
By noon on Nov. 18 the school had already surpassed their $15,000 goal. By Friday the school was up to $17,500.
For reaching the $15,000 goal, the students will be treated to a SNOW Ball Dance Battle. Blanche Sims music teacher Abby Rennels will DJ a dance battle outdoors between Principal Ken Nuss and physical education teacher Matt Luhmann.
The kids will be able to watch the dance battle, join in on the dancing and have hot chocolate and treats during the SNOW Ball Dance Party, Valko said.
“And we have a super-secret stretch goal of $20,00 and the kids have a whole bunch of incentives tied to that that they’re really looking forward to,” Valko said. “That will turn our SNOW Ball into a Glow SNOW Ball. So, we’ll have blinky, crazy stuff to make it even more fun.”