Deerfield Elementary third graders raise nearly $5,000 for Australia wildfire relief

photo by: Contributed photo

From left to right, Lawrence sixth graders Piper Bonner and Isabella Bobey help third graders Ada Bennett, Ava Mann and Korin Keovongsack count money they raised during a trivia and silent auction event to benefit Australian wildfire relief efforts, on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

A student-run fundraising event for Australian wildfire relief came up big last weekend.

Deerfield Elementary third grade teacher Madeline Herrera said her students’ trivia night event raised about $4,800 for Australian organizations providing recovery efforts — and a few more donations may still be coming in the mail.

A big reason the event was so fruitful was because Lawrence resident Ron Wilson matched the funds the students raised and then donated an additional $1,000, she said.

photo by: Contributed photo

Guests look through items on sale during a silent auction Deerfield Elementary third grade students held on Sunday, March 1, 2020, to help raise funds for Australian wildfire relief.

But the fundraising would not have been possible without the students, who were “phenomenal” leading the event, Herrera said. It proved to be a good example for the students that they have the power to make change, she said.

“I think the most important and lasting effect of this night was that the students truly see themselves as having agency,” Herrera said. “They see that they are capable of enacting change through their actions.”

The students operated the trivia and silent auction event — which they called “Overkoalafied: Third Graders Supporting Australia” — at the Cider Gallery on Sunday, March 1, in response to the devastating wildfires in Australia, which burned up a massive portion of the country.


Deerfield third grade class to host trivia event to raise money for Australia wildfire relief

Herrera previously told the Journal-World the students were inspired to do something for Australia shortly after learning about the effects of climate change.

“When they started hearing about the fires, they kept asking their parents for more and more information,” Herrera told the Journal-World last week. “They started to see the link between the fires and climate change.”

The catastrophic fires in Australia burned up millions of acres — an area estimated at roughly the size of South Korea — and scientists are calling the event a “fiery wake-up call for climate science,” according to a recent BBC News report.

As the students kept asking about the fires, Herrera realized they felt they needed to do something. She said the students settled on the trivia event, which turned out to be a rousing success.

photo by: Contributed photo

Lawrence third grade students Daniel Babalola, left, and Rosella Betancourt, center-left, compare team answers for a trivia event as sixth grade students Brody Myers, center-right, and Zane Shaw, right, help.

She was also impressed with how the students led the event, as they all had their own duties to perform, such as greeting the guests and handling money. Other students were charged with asking the trivia questions, scoring team results and operating the silent auction. Herrera said the event also involved some of her past students, who are now sixth graders.

“They were so excited when they first got to the Cider Gallery that they were literally jumping up and down,” she said. “They took their job seriously and kept me updated on anything they felt I needed to know,” she added.

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