“The kids were lined five deep today,” said parent Wayne Libman. “It was like Black Friday.”
Students were waiting to buy bracelets made by fourth-graders in Bonnie Popienko’s class. Each morning this week, the children have been selling bracelets they made for 25 to 50 cents apiece. Sales benefit victims of the Jan. 30 tornado that hit Adairsville in Bartow County, leaving one person dead.
“I thought I could really help family and help people in need,” said Libman’s 10-year-old daughter, Sofia, who organized the effort.
Popienko said many of her 30 students have spent between 25 and 30 hours before and after school making and selling the bracelets. They set an initial goal of raising $100, then raised it to $150. Now that they have sold more than 1,000 bracelets, they want to raise at least $300.
“I think we have a lot of very compassionate kids,” Popienko said. “We talked a lot in our class about what we can do for others, how we can make a difference in the world. I think they were affected when they saw the pictures of what happened with the tornado.”
The students at the northeast Cobb school made the bracelets using Rainbow Looms, toys that allow them to put together bracelets using dozens of small rubber bands in a matter of minutes.
“It’s kind of the rage right now,” principal Dee Mobley said.
Before the students could sell the bracelets, they had to promote them, said fourth-grader Neel Iyer, 10.
“We had to make a lot of posters to get our name out there,” he said.
The sale is also intended to teach the kids about entrepreneurship.
“They teach each other,” said Kim Hayes, whose 10-year-old daughter, Caroline, is in the class. “They are kind of like co-workers.”
And the lesson includes learning how to kiss up to the boss. In order to do the project, the students had to write persuasive letters to the principal, showing what the benefits would be. They also had to choose whether to send the money to a single family or to a general fund, benefitting all victims.
Ultimately, Popienko said the kids voted to give the money to the American Red Cross so everyone could benefit.
“They felt like more people could be helped,” she said. “To them, $300 is like $300,000. They’ve never seen that kind of money before.”