OGDEN -- Esmerelda Renteria carefully counted quarters and dollars with third-grade teacher Laura Coria before she went out to recess Tuesday afternoon.
"We've already earned $40!" Esmerelda said.
She and her friends laughed and high-fived as they celebrated earning the first $40 for their fundraiser for Haiti.
Students at James Madison Elementary School are spending the week raising funds for the Red Cross for the relief effort for the Haitian people.
They spent Tuesday reading in pajamas all day for a readathon. Students got pledges from friends, neighbors and families -- 25 cents for each book read or a $5 donation for the whole day of reading.
On Wednesday, students did chores at home to earn money for the cause.
Today, students will submit persuasive papers they've written, pleading for communities to donate to the Red Cross. A family night starts at 6 p.m. at the school, 2563 Monroe Blvd., so families can see students' work and have an opportunity to donate additional money.
Students have been working on Haitian art projects with the school's art specialist this week, and those will be on display. A live band, Consentidos de Tijuana, will donate its time to perform at the family night as well.
"I really think we will get even more donated then," Coria said.
She came up with the idea a few weeks back and at first thought she would have just her class participate in the project, but when she told the principal about it, he got the whole school involved.
On Friday, the fifth grade did a presentation in a school assembly about what has been going on in Haiti as that country recovers from the January earthquake.
Coria was impressed with the hard work the students put into the presentation and noticed immediately how interested the students got in helping out with the project.
The Red Cross also sent a representative to answer questions about relief efforts.
"It's pretty good to be helping someone else instead of just getting money for ourselves," said third-grader Raquel Trujillo.
She and her friends had a page covered with titles of books they already had read that day.
"We're just reading the whole day," Raquel said as she and her friends picked up a huge stack of books and settled in to do more reading.
"We just felt so bad and wanted to help."
Coria has been thrilled, not only with the response of the youngsters wanting to help out, but also with their excitement to read.
The school usually does several reading activities in March, because it's National Reading Month and to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday, but Coria has noticed the students have more enthusiasm for the activity because it is for a good cause.
Students broke into reading groups in different classrooms and the commons area and divided books by title and classification so they could get a good selection of what they wanted to read.
Coria is also working with the district, because the fundraising event is considered a service learning activity for which the district gives extra money.
"I don't know how it will work out, but we are hoping to get some more money for Haiti that way," she said.
The principal and Red Cross also threw in an incentive for the classes that raise the most money -- an ice cream party.
"It's just been awesome," Coria said, "and it's for the kids."