Mother Teresa quote inspires Orem school to raise funds for Japan a penny at a time

Mar 31 2011 - 5:41pm

OREM -- When Shellie Dean, first grade teacher at Vineyard Elementary School in Orem read a Mother Teresa quote to her class, they didn't just get inspired, they got moving.  The quote, "We can do no great thing. Only small things with great love," catapulted the children into action.

They came up with the idea to raise money to help other children in Japan. With the support of Dean and Principal Sylvia Allan they challenged the entire school to a week-long competition to see which class could raise the most money. They even taped a commercial to "sell" the idea to their classmates.

The competition began Monday, March 28, and four days later the children had raised $700, which includes 16,000 ennies. 

"It's been really exciting. Much bigger than we imagined it would be," said Dean, "The kids are very excited and proud about the success their hard work has created. The whole school has really gotten behind it."

Dean's class will present the money to an official Red Cross representative Monday, April 4th, at 9:30 a.m., at Vineyard Elementary in front of the entire student body. Reporters and photographers are welcome. Vineyard Elementary is located at 620 East Holdaway Road in Orem, Utah.

"We're amazed at what these kids have accomplished," said Maxine Margaritis, CEO, American Red Cross Utah Region. "They have powerfully demonstrated the compassion for others that is the foundation of the mission of the Red Cross."

"Sometimes we underestimate children's abilities to think outside of themselves," adds Sylvia Allan, Principal of Vineyard Elementary. "It's amazing to us that students came up with this idea, and with support from a hardworking teacher that values children's ideas and input she facilitated a contest that helps students help other children in Japan."

Liz Merrill Development and Community Relations Director for the American Red Cross Mountain Valley Chapter concludes, "First Grade teacher Shellie Dean is a pillar of light and goodness in our community. Shellie is teaching our children to act with compassion and generosity during times of tragedy. It is stressful for children to witness news coverage of pain and suffering but then feel helpless to act. 

Simply by giving pennies to those in need, these children are learning to cooperate, put the needs of others above their own, and create a stronger community.  

Often people feel their donations are too small to alleviate the suffering of others, but $5 can buy a Red Cross blanket to help comfort a disaster victim. Every donation, no matter how small, helps give a disaster victim a safe place to stay, food to eat and clothes to wear.   A drop may not seem to matter, but the ocean is made up of individual drops.  These pennies will join together to create a substantial donation of millions of dollars from the American public to the people of Japan. "


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