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Making a merrier holiday for a family in need

Third grade entrepreneur Ben B. sells his wares at a bake sale at Timber Trail Elementary. The sale, which was conducted during the school’s lunch period raised $237. Proceeds provided holiday gifts for a family in need.

Article and photo by Lisa Crockett

Five hundred dollars is a lot of money. For an eight-year-old, that’s a lot of cash to raise, especially if you’re raising it for someone else. But third graders in Kimberly Jester’s class at Timber Trail Elementary set that lofty goal as part of a unit they worked on at school called “Lean on Me.”

The lesson encouraged students to raise money to provide holiday gifts for a family of five at the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center in Castle Rock. The project was part of the students’ curriculum designed to teach a variety of concepts ranging from civic responsibility to mathematics.

Initially, students brainstormed ways they could earn money to contribute, ranging from dog walking to searching the couch cushions.

“For a period of about three weeks, the kids worked at home completing chores for family and neighbors,” said Jester. “They also came up with some other creative ways to make money.”

One of those creative ideas came from student Ben Ballantine, who consulted with his mom Julie to think of ways the class could generate cash.

“Kids really love sweets, especially this time of year,” said Julie. “So we thought a bake sale that the whole class could work on might be a good idea.”

Ben was on board, but because Timber Trail is a “healthy” school, sugary treats aren’t generally allowed. Ben wasn’t about to give up, though, and brought his idea to school principal Michele Radke, who approved an exception to the school’s no-treat rule.

“Talking to the principal and putting this idea together was a great learning experience for Ben,” said Julie. “He is the kind of kid who would give a person in need the shirt off his back, so it was really great to see him and the other kids pull this off.”

For his part, Ben was happy to see his project come to life when classmates brought in an abundance of tasty treats for sale during the third-grade lunch period. “It feels really good to help a family out,” he said.

The bake sale alone generated $237. That money, along with the donations from other kids in his class came to a grand total of $1,000 – doubling their initial earnings goal.

“They had such ownership in this project and I have no doubt that the learning and the experience will stay with them for a lifetime,” said Jester. “Never underestimate what your students are capable of, and how hard they will work for you when you provide an opportunity for them to apply their learning in an authentic real-world situation.”



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