This December, students at DeKalb High School were greeted by a different type of morning bell – a shiny silver one rung by fellow students stationed at the school’s official Salvation Army red kettle. If a red kettle in a school sounds out of place, the story behind this lesson in philanthropy is a perfect fit for this New Tech school in northeast Indiana.
Jennifer Evans teaches Consumer Communications, a project-based class for freshmen that combines English and Intro to Business standards. Inspired by the school’s 5K race benefiting four local charities, including The Salvation Army, Jennifer’s students chose to devote their next project to the iconic Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.
“Their enthusiasm is so infectious!” remarks Renee Florin, The Salvation Army’s Service Extension Representative in the county who helped Jennifer’s class learn the ins and outs of bell ringing. “This is something completely new – a real blessing for our community.”
The students filmed videos, designed flyers, and wrote announcements targeted toward elementary, middle, and high school audiences. Working with Major Gerald Smelser, the students learned about Salvation Army services in their community and how the money they raised would help those with the most need.
“I think, as freshmen, they’re appreciative,” Jennifer explains. “They didn’t realize they could contribute in such a positive way to the community. They’re so excited to know and to see how much of a positive impact they can have, and it’s been awesome.”
These creative young fundraisers rang the bell in the high school during arrival and lunch, placed collection tins in every elementary classroom, and even collected donations from fans during home basketball games. At the end of two weeks they had raised awareness and over $400 to help fund local Salvation Army programs.
Jennifer has seen the impact the students’ philanthropic project has made, both in the schools and throughout the county. “It’s exhilarating to see their excitement and to see them become more involved in the community. Also to see the community say, ‘Wow. Freshman and kids can do good things and can make a difference.’ There’s no better result than that.”