CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Students at Barkstall Elementary spent the school year raising money for black bear cubs hundreds of miles from Central Illinois.
One of those students is Braydon Mora. He’ll soon be off to middle school, but is taking some valuable lessons with him.
“I didn’t really know much, I didn’t even know that you could bring can tabs and give them to the recycling center really,” says Mora. He found out about that when he and his classmates raised money for Appalachian Bear Rescue. Their teacher, Valerie Prescott, fell in love with the cause while hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“We came across a grocery store and outside the grocery store there was the Appalachian Bear Rescue fundraising team,” she says. The organization helps save black bear cubs. The money from Prescott’s class goes to food, toys and facilities.
“When I came back to school that year I explained it all to my students and they chose that as their service project for the year,” says Prescott. That was two years ago. Both of her classes since then have diligently collected can tabs, and even donated from their own piggy banks.
“It was fun because like we got to learn about what the bears are doing,” says Mora.
The project started small, just inside of Prescott’s classroom. But this year, Mora’s class was divided into special groups: including communications and fundraising teams. They got the whole school involved.
“I like how we had our teams that would work on different things and once we would finish we would all collaborate,” says Mora.
Prescott says it’s an attitude like that one that she’s trying to instill in her students. She says, “There’s nothing more beautiful than watching kids fall in love with the idea of giving.”
And while Mora won’t be around to help next year’s class, he’s leaving them with some advice.
“I would recommend that kids, not even in school, could just do this type of thing and you don’t even have to do it to Appalachian Bear Rescue, you could do it to like another organization that might need support from the community,” says Mora.
If you’re interested in donating, you can send can tabs to Barkstall Elementary, courtesy of Valerie Prescott’s 5th grade classroom.
To learn more about Appalachian Bear Rescue, click here.