Dianne’s Creature Feature (because, cows)

Cowabunga, TOW tops “Change for Change” goal

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

What do cows, greenhouses, and coins all have in common? Top of the World Elementary. 

Just at a time when there is the widespread notion that small things can’t make a difference, students at TOW Elementary proved that concept wrong. In a big way. Small things, spare change in this case, turn into big things (dollars to be exact) that can make significant differences.

To this end, TOW Elementary PTA created a spare change collection campaign for Giving Tuesday. They encouraged students to bring any amount of surplus change to raise $500 (with a $500 match from the TOW PTA) to support With My Own Two Hands Foundation (WMO2H), a Laguna Beach nonprofit that provides water and agricultural projects to fund education and create self-reliant projects and communities.

WmO2H chosen for focus on children, education and sustainability

 “The TOW PTA chose With My Own 2 Hands for our Giving Tuesday fundraiser because of its focus on children, education and sustainable projects. This clearly resonated with the students, which was one of our goals. We wanted to help provide better nutrition for the children in Kenya while also showing students how powerful they can be when they work together for a cause they care about. We love that this foundation’s philosophy is to empower individuals to make a difference, even in a country that they might never have visited,” says Jennifer Grzeskowiak, the community service chair for TOW PTA.

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

Grayson Grzeskowiak helps count some last-minute coins 

 The funds were earmarked for purchase of two dairy cows that would each provide 45 Kenyan kids with fresh milk every day. And to make the campaign even more exciting, the classrooms competed against each other to see who could raise the most money for the honor of naming the cows. 

 And to say that the students accomplished their objective “in a big way,” is no exaggeration. The TOW “Change for Change” campaign exceeded their goal of $500 and raised a whopping $2,199. Further, the TOW PTA was so inspired by the children’s generosity, they doubled their contribution to a generous $1,000 match - for a total of $3,199.

“Every class participated in the fundraiser. This is a busy time of year for parents, teachers and students, so I was blown away that every class brought in money. Also, some students brought in bills, but more than 60 percent ($1,343) was in coins,” says Grzeskowiak. “The top class brought in $230.92. The top three are going to get to name one of the cows.” 

What will the kids name the three cows they’ve sponsored?

Max Osborne, from the class that ranked number three (in raising money), says, «Everyone was super excited about the cows. Everyone was racing to fill up the jar because they really wanted to help and really wanted to name a cow.» 

Three of the names his class is considering for the cow are Albert, Milky and Ginger. The classes will announce the names they chose at an assembly in December.

Because TOW smashed their goal, the funds will now purchase three cows 

anda sister greenhouse that will provide 400-500 children and adults fresh vegetables. In addition, the surplus of 250 pounds of crops will be sold, generating income that will fund education. 

“TOW has its own garden program that the students love,” Grzeskowiak explains, “so we’re happy to be able to provide a garden at another school in Kenya and further improve their nutrition.”

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

Kids and moms holding signs at drop-off the morning of Giving Tuesday

 There’s no doubt that the students truly took the giving to heart.  “There are so many great and inspiring stories and every penny donated by the students has positively impacted the kids who inspire all of us at WMO2H every day! There is a sweet story of fitth grader Josh Novick who donated all $100 of his birthday money,” says Mary Beth Pugh, Director of Operations at WMO2H. “We had our founder Lindsey Pluimer give him a personal call to thank him as well.”

Fifth grader gives every cent of his birthday money to the cause

Josh said of his donation, “I wanted to give my birthday money to someone who needs it rather than spend it on something I want. It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Evidently, the “Change for Change” campaign, which was a huge success, is just the beginning of the fundraising experience for these students. “This is going to be a great kick-off for TOW PTA’s Dive Into Giving student-led grant program. We are encouraging classes to raise money for a cause of their choice that we will partially match. 

“Students present their ideas to the TOW PTA for a chance at grant matching funding. We want to plant the seeds of giving now and know these kids will become some of the world’s next change-makers,” Grzeskowiak added. “We’ll match $200-$500 of the money they raise. We want students to take ownership of the giving process and see what they can accomplish when they work together.” 

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

At student assembly, (l-r) Ava Guziak, Jack Pugh, and Reid Guziak talk about their experiences with WMO2H projects in Kenya

 Pluimer said of her organization, “With My Own Two Hands seeks to inspire our communities to help improve the lives of children in need. This fundraiser is an incredible way to show the kids in our beautiful Laguna Beach community that everyone can make a difference. The children’s generosity will now provide better nutrition and a diversified diet for hundreds.” 

With My Own Two Hands Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned or disadvantaged children in need. Their model creates self-reliance by setting up water and agricultural business-like ventures in Kenya where surplus is sold to the local community. A minimum of 40 percent of proceeds goes toward funding education.

Grzeskowiak says, “The feedback I’ve gotten from kids and parents was that the concept of helping other kids by providing them with cows for milk and bringing in spare change was all very tangible for them. We wanted to make fundraising engaging for them.” 

And apparently, it was. It’s no cow-incidence that when you put a goal in the hands of TOW students, they set their minds and money to it, work together, and the result changes lives. 

Congratulations, TOW Elementary! 

I can’t wait to find out the names of the cows.

For further information on WMO2H, go to www.withmyown2hands.org

When a cow laughs, does milk come out its nose?

...Unknown

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster.

Katie Ford is our Ad Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Account & Instagram Manager.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

949.715.1736