Area children raise funds for hurricane victims

Regina Martinez The Daily Illini Parker Colcombe, 5, and mother Angela Colcombe, place a bid Wednesday for an art piece at the Next Generation Schools silent auction at 2533 Galen Dr. in Champaign. The artwork was done by students ranging from six weeks old to fourth graders. All proceeds are going to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Regina Martinez The Daily Illini Parker Colcombe, 5, and mother Angela Colcombe, place a bid Wednesday for an art piece at the Next Generation School’s silent auction at 2533 Galen Dr. in Champaign. The artwork was done by students ranging from six weeks old to fourth graders. All proceeds are going to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

By Danielle Gaines

In the two weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, children in many area schools have been working hard to help the victims.

On August 30, one day after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the kindergarten class at Next Generation Primary School in Champaign had already raised $500 in change for the victims.

Not to be outdone, the fourth and fifth grade classes planned an art auction and bingo night to raise even more money.

“As adults, we are somewhat desensitized to these things. The kids see it and are just devastated, but they see the hope and have decided to take the next step already,” said Erin Tarr, associate director of the Next Generation School.

The auction, held Wednesday at the primary school, raised over $2,000.

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The art auction featured individual works by children and class art projects. While some of the class projects sold for hundreds of dollars each, the children’s individual pieces were generally purchased by friends for a few dollars.

One painting, titled “Love,” included a quote from kindergartner Priya Lama.

“You can love someone in heaven that you miss a lot,” Lama wrote.

“It is amazing what the children want to say to those that are hurt … it just brings tears to your eyes,” said her mother, Lynne Lama.

With the help of parents and teachers, items auctioned grew to include treats donated by Jarlings Custard Cup and Curtis Orchard, a 7-night resort vacation, and “the world’s most expensive iPod.”

The iPod will be sold through a raffle, causing its value to be over $900. Raffle tickets can still be purchased through Friday, Sept. 23.

Nathan Yahnke, a four-year-old from the Early Education Center, came to the auction with his mother.

“I came to look at my picture for the people who don’t have their homes,” he said. “If I could help, I would give the kids new clothes and tell them that it will be okay.”

The main attraction at the middle school was a game of bingo. Children took turns calling out numbers and selling baked goods, while parents donated over $500.

The children at the school are now deciding what charity to donate the money to. They are looking for a charity that does not take out administrative costs and plan to donate a portion to an animal rescue fund.

Schools throughout the Champaign-Urbana area have sponsored multiple fundraisers for the hurricane victims.

Students at Lincoln Elementary School in Monticello were encouraged to bring in one dollar each for the relief effort.

School Principal Eric Hillman said the event asked for only one dollar per child so as not to put a burden on any family. He also said that nearly every child donated more. As the children dropped their donations into a collection bin, teachers explained to them the purpose of their donation.

“It was so charming, seeing the kids bring in pennies, baggies of change and their piggy banks. They really learned a lot from the experience,” Hillman said.

All five of the schools in the Monticello school district participated, raising over $6,300 for the American Red Cross.

Broadmeadow Elementary School students in Rantoul raised over $300 in spare change for the victims of Katrina.

Over $10,500 has been raised thus far by students at Champaign Central High School. Soon after Katrina hit, the Student Council hosted their first dance of the year and donated all of the profits to a relief fund. School clubs also contributed to the fund. Other students volunteered by passing bins at football games or solciliting students during and after school. The final donations will be taken on Friday.

Ali Hobbs, student council president, said the students were moved to action by their principal Bill Freyman.

“He was genuinely concerned about the situation, and we were proud to bring the school together for a good cause,” Hobbs said.