HANNIBAL — Hannibal Middle School students showed their compassion for furry friends at the Northeast Humane Society, raising $2,000 with their Furry Friends Fundraiser.
Debbie Williams is a seventh grade social studies teacher and leads the Leaders of the Crew student group. The students submit applications, faculty members check attendance and discipline and a teacher recommendation is required to join. In two years, the Leaders of the Crew has grown into two groups, and the students organize and lead projects like the successful fundraiser to benefit the NEMOHS.
“They’re the real leaders of the school,” Williams said.
Williams said the group plans dances, pep assemblies and other projects. The pandemic put a halt on those events, but the fundraiser brought good-natured competition between RTI classrooms, with the winning class receiving a root beer float party accompanied by puppies. The Leaders of the Crew members have specific tasks like recycling, and everyone comes together for a large project like the Furry Friends Fundraiser.
Williams knew the NEMO Humane Society was in the process of building a new facility, and the students held a fundraiser the previous school year before COVID-19, bringing in $250.
This time around, the Leaders of the Crew were ready to lead the school toward a greater level of support for NEMOHS.
“It was really successful, plus we really were meticulous with our campaign,” she said. “The kids created a slideshow, and we sent it out to all the homerooms. We had posters all over the building.”
In addition, NEMOHS partnered with the Leaders of the Crew, bringing some dogs in to visit during lunch so the “kids could see who they’re donating to.” Williams said she felt the root beer float party and the chance to play with the puppies inspired each class to win.
There are 50 RTI classes at HMS. Six homerooms gave more than $100, and Bailey Ash’s RTI class won the competition with $340 raised.
Seventh grade student Ava Turner said “every penny counts” and she expressed her happiness through making a difference.
“It made me feel responsible and like a leader, because I was taking charge over something and making a change,” she said. “And then whenever I saw all the money that was coming in, it made me feel really good about myself.”
Ash said fellow teacher Melinda Kneib challenged her students by offering to match a donation of $50.
“Just having that kind of competition aspect to this, that’s what actually helped my RTI,” she said, noting the cancellation of activities due to the pandemic also spurred the students’ success. “I told them this is your chance to essentially have the power on whether you get to have this fun activity or not. They rolled with it, and I think we added money to our pot every single day.”
The RTI class is happy about winning, and Ash reminded them what is truly important about what they accomplished when she turned in the money on Friday.
“I said ‘guys, it doesn’t matter that we won or not — the fact that we raised that much to go help something is awesome,” Ash said.
Eighth grade students Rae Sherman and Tara Reed shared their sentiments about getting to support furry friends at NEMOHS.
“How much money we raised, it’s crazy the amount of money we reached,” Sherman said.
Reed was excited about the difference the money would make for the animals at the shelter.
“I just think it’s really good to know the dogs that are there will be able to get more things and help them out a lot more,” she said.
Sherman encouraged others to consider supporting NEMOHS.
“They should do it — they should make it one of their goals, because it’s a fun experience as well just by helping,” she said.