Elkhart students know there’s no amount too small for the Giving Tree Project, which has raised more than $600 for the Elkhart City Park playground. Elkhart Elementary’s Character Guidance Teacher Susan Trim uses the project to teach students about the joy of giving each year.
The city recently installed new equipment at the park but Trim wants students to contribute their own equipment so they’ll take more pride in the new playground.
“We wanted the children to have a part in developing that so they’re more apt to take care of it, to play on it,” Trim said. “We encourage them to do what’s right and to practice what’s right on a regular basis.”
They are raising money to purchase park benches and picnic tables for parents and grandparents to use while children play at the park.
Most students donate money earned from chores at home while some bring tooth fairy money. All students are proud of their contributions, no matter how small. One student, Emma Claire Hardy, turned in a bag of coins worth about $28, which she earned from doing chores.
The project is based on a book titled The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, in which a tree keeps giving to a man through the stages of his life without asking for anything in return.
The Giving Tree is just one service project the students do each month. For example, in October they collect new socks for the homeless, and in January they hold the Great Kindness Challenge, which involves doing helpful tasks.
Trim teaches character education during a bi-weekly class. Students come to her room every other week and learn about a new concept each six weeks.
“Our goal here is to teach our children to do things because it’s the right thing to do, and self-satisfaction is what the pay is,” Trim said. “It’s getting kids in gear to look beyond themselves and see what they can do for others to contribute to their world.”
Past Giving Tree projects have raised money for the Luke Strong Foundation, Hope Station, the van fund for the Disabled Veterans Organization and the Elkhart Volunteer Fire Department. Roughly 200 children from Elkhart Elementary and Elkhart Intermediate schools contributed funds to this year’s Giving Tree.
First and second grade students shared why they like to help others and how raising money for the park is important.
Mia Lunsford said she likes to pitch in.
“Sometimes people might need help with something,” Lunsford said.
Piper Vickery said she wants to raise money for play equipment for kids who use wheelchairs.
Zoey Estrada raised money by helping her mom at home with chores.
“It’s fun to raise money and help the community,” Estrada said.
Trim said some Elkhart school employees plan to donate money so some new equipment can be installed this summer and the kids can see the fruit of their efforts.
“The students are getting to be a part of building that park in a small way,” Trim said.
People who would like to donate to the park can send checks to the Elkhart City Park Fund, 110 W. Parker St., Elkhart, Texas, 75839.