Bake sale for tsunami aid held at U.S. Jones

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

The children orphaned in the Asian tsunami disaster live on the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, thousands upon thousands of miles away. The children attending U.S. Jones Elementary School live in Demopolis. But the vast physical and cultural distances separating the two aren’t enough to keep one class of Jones students from doing their best to help those in need.

Friday afternoon, from 2:45 to 4:30 p.m. in the U.S. Jones Elementary gymnasium, Connie Nelson’s class of fifth-graders hosted a bake sale to benefit children who lost both parents in the tsunami.

“I showed the class some of the news clips from news coverage of the tsunami, and we talked about ways to help the victims,” Nelson said. “The kids decided on having a bake sale. This is really something the kids wanted to do.”

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The sale featured a substantial variety of cookies, cakes, and pies, and Nelson said one Cuban mother had agreed to donate some of her special puddings. Money raised by the bake sale will go to UNICEF’s fund for tsunami orphans.

“The orphanages over there are full,” Nelson said, “and children who go to live with their extended relatives often have to share with many children in the same family. Our goal is to raise $168. $168 will provide 80 children with clothing and enough school supplies to finish their education.”

Nelson credits her class for providing most of the labor behind the scenes of the bake sale.

“We’ve been doing it three weeks now,” she said, nothing that her students had made and hung promotional posters; written and read announcements over the intercom; stayed after school to notify parents arriving to pick up their children; were responsible for reminding bakers of their commitment of goods to the sale; would set up the bake sale area with tables and signs; and would serve as cashiers.

Supervising this size of a project isn’t easy, but Nelson has had some extra motivation. The project will also help her achieve National Board Certification, which requires work on a community project. Certification would provide a big boost to the school, Nelson said.

“We currently only have one person Board certified in the whole system. It’s a really hard process that takes a lot of time,” she says, “but our Superintendent and principal are always behind it when someone decides to apply. It’s just a lot of work.”

The Certification is secondary, though, Nelson says, when compared to the benefit for the children involved, both in Asia and in her classroom.

“We just want the kids to have that great feeling,” she says, “that comes with doing something for somebody else.”