In the fall of 2007, Rockford Christian School (RCS) staff member Mark Worst and teacher Bev Broersma had an idea: to create a service project for Bev’s fourth-grade class that would teach her students how to give. The idea was to set up a “school store” run by fourth-graders that would serve the Rockford Christian School community, and in turn, serve the world.
In addition to the snack items and school supplies that the class now sells, the fourth-graders also partner with other RCS class fundraisers to further boost their earnings. This school year they have already earned over $1,200, which has been donated to good causes throughout West Michigan and the world.
The class’ efforts have purchased everything from backpacks of supplies for Asian missionaries to water filters for small villages, to school supplies for a small Christian school in the Dominican Republic.
One of the class’ favorite projects was using the $416 they earned in November and December to purchase Christmas gifts for a Grand Rapids family. The students took their hard-earned money to Meijer and shopped for items on the family’s wish list, then brought them back to school to be wrapped and delivered.
April’s funds are already earmarked toward another project close to home. The class’ goal is to buy ingredients to assemble 1,800 individual snack bags full of trail mix to be distributed to kids in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
”The store has been such a blessing to us,” says Broersma. “When kids see what the money they earn can buy, it makes it more real to them. Their effort bought markers or presents or talking Bibles-not their parents’ effort. They get excited! My goal is to teach kids that ‘donating’ money to a service project isn’t always just parents handing over cash. It takes time and effort and sometimes requires us to give up time in which we could be enjoying ourselves-recess!”
The RCS store is open twice daily, during morning and noon breaks. At each time, two fourth-graders staff the store, collecting money, making change and serving their customers. Many students donate their change toward the month’s cause, and sometimes parents make additional donations.
The store has some academic benefits. “I can do math a lot quicker,” says fourth-grader Grace Parmeter. But the real goal of the store is seeing what a difference this class can make in the lives of others. Erica Holesinger summed it up: “It reminds me that I’m never too young to help other people.”
For additional information, contact Stacy Falk at (616) 855-1653 or Principal Jan VanderWerp at (616) 574-6402.