VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Star of the Sea Catholic School sits just blocks from the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach. It’s a small school that’s working to reach big goals thanks to a fundraiser called Raise Craze.
“It started with our mission to increase our outdoor learning space, so the fundraiser is helping us accomplish that goal,” said Marianne Padrick.
Padrick teaches Pre-K3 at Star of the Sea. She says Raise Craze allowed students to earn donations for each act of kindness they performed on campus.
“With Raise Craze, the teachers, parents, and mostly our students, were encouraged to engage in as many acts of kindness as possible. The students did so by interacting with one another, whether it be writing kind notes for each other, drawing each other pictures, or going to classroom windows because of the social distancing, and just saying hello and spreading kindness with their smiles. We engaged in a ‘chalk the walk’ where the students wrote encouraging and inspirational messages out on the sidewalk. We made blessing bags, and the blessing bags were particularly important because they helped us branch out from our school into the greater community. We delivered blessing bags that were full of candies, prayer cards, special notes from the students that had been decorated by hand. We delivered those to Marian Manor, and especially right now with the pandemic, any way that we could help bridge that social distancing and let people know in our community know that we’re still here, we’re still thinking and praying for you,” said Padrick.
Students like fifth-grader Mark Saulnier really enjoyed participating in Raise Craze.
“My favorite must have been teacher appreciation because they work so hard for us, and they really deserve the best,” said Saulnier.
He says he loves the feeling he gets when he is kind to others.
“It makes me feel really good. You get this feeling inside you like, ‘Wow! I did a good thing.’ And it makes you feel really good and then you get to do it over and over and over again.”
If students were “caught” performing an act of kindness on campus, they received “kindness coins.”
“So, when children were coming home with these coins, parents would ask them, ‘Well, what did you do at school?’ And they would communicate with one another and then families started brainstorming, ‘Well how can we get involved outside of school? How do we continue to promote this kindness?’ And all of a sudden, all of these pictures started coming in from 8th grade to Pre-K3, just of students taking in trash for their neighbors, students Facetiming family members more often, students helping, cooking dinner for the family, and all of a sudden, everyone was just engaging in socializing with each other in a very positive and prayerful way, too,” said Padrick.
Seventh-grader Jaden Large was inspired by Raise Craze. She says she loved participating in the events at Star of the Sea, but like so many, she also participated at home.
“I love baking and cooking, and so I cooked dinner for my family for two weeks,” said Large.
Much like Saulnier, Large loves the feeling she gets when she is kind to others.
“It makes me feel amazing because when you’re nice to people, you can see, like, how they react and it’s just so nice to see how they react, because you can see the joy on people’s faces.”
All this kindness created some serious cash for Star of the Sea.
“The goal was $5,000 and, in the end,, we ended up raising over $24,000,” said Padrick.
In the end, it isn’t the dollar amount that sticks with Star of the Sea and its families. It’s the lesson that shows the power simple acts of kindness can have on the community.
Saulnier said he believes the community preferred donating money for acts of kindness rather than having to buy wrapping paper or candy for a fundraiser.
“We were really serving, not selling. So, we’re serving the community, not selling acts of kindness,” said Saulnier.
So far, students at Star of the Sea have performed more than 1,400 acts of kindness, and they show no signs of stopping.
If you know of a child, or children, doing awesome things in your community, be sure to let Katie Collett know so she can feature them in one of her upcoming Children of Change segments.
Email her at Katie.Collett@wavy.com or reach out to her on her Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts.