Hurricane Irma missed Charleston, South Carolina by about 200 miles, but it did not leave the historic city untouched. The storm’s outer bands came at Charleston with tidal surges reaching 10 feet high, the likes of which the town hadn’t seen since Hurricane Hugo nearly two decades earlier. It was enough to leave an impression on some young observers. And it left them wondering what they could do for other kids that had been affected by Irma.
“The kids wanted to help hurricane victims rebuild,” said Caitlin Tobin, a fourth grade teacher at Charleston Day School. “This was their choice; they decided their work and the money they earned should go to kids in cities and schools that were hit by Hurricane Irma.”
Tobin is referring to the profits her students bring in during the fourth graders’ annual holiday market, a project she launched five years ago to accompany The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies. The Lemonade War chronicles the entrepreneurial rivalry between fictional fourth-grader Evan Treski and his little sister, Jessie. The pair goes to battle with competing lemonade stands, a journey that leads them through the finer points of running a business before taking them back to the most important lesson of all: people always come first.
The Charleston fourth graders’ market follows a similar path. The students start by filling out applications for various jobs, and then go on to choose the products they will offer in their market (new products this year included cinnamon sugar jars and chicken noodle soup mix), manage their own classroom currency system, staff the assembly lines, market the event (check out their video below), and count up the sales. And the proceeds are always donated — past beneficiaries have included clean water projects and feeding programs. This year the students decided to donate their profits to First Book’s hurricane relief effort, which is currently distributing 1,000,000 books, in addition to resources and basic needs items, to hurricane-affected states and Puerto Rico.
This year’s holiday market yielded more than $1,500—enough to provide approximately 500 books to children in need. In places like Florida, where entire libraries were decimated by the storm, that makes a big difference.
The market aligns with author Jacqueline Davies’ #KidsCan initiative, which recognizes that kids have the ability to accomplish incredible things, and encourages them to flex their “can do” muscles.
“[Kids] can gain an enormous amount from practicing service,” Davies said. “It’s the doing that counts when kids are young…they can experience all kinds of positive rewards when they participate in a community-service project, including feelings of pride, the pleasure of group work, and personal gratification at reaching a goal…Sometimes, young people feel like they don’t have the power to change anything, but I know that #KidsCan. I’ve seen it!”
First Book is enormously grateful to Mrs. Tobin and her fourth grade class for the thought, work, and compassion they put into raising money to help out kids affected by the hurricane. From all of us at First Book and from the communities we serve helped by your generosity and hard work… Thank you!