BYU student and fourth-grade teacher Andrew Lovell at Spanish Oaks Elementary has inspired his classroom to serve the community around them. He hopes to invoke lifelong values in children’s lives.
Lovell’s class raised $2,514.80 for Utah Foster Care through a class-organized reading marathon sponsored by friends, family and neighbors. This money will go toward Christmas, birthday and other various holiday gifts throughout the year.
“We were expecting to raise anywhere between $50 and $500, so when we revealed to everyone the tremendous success of the reading marathon, everyone was in tears,” Lovell said.
The money was originally intended to go toward Christmas gifts but will now be used to buy gifts for children in Utah’s Foster Care system.
“I was really excited that these children would want to help a child out that has possibly less than they do or a more difficult situation,” said Beth Hardman, an employee at Utah Foster Care. “I was speechless knowing what these children had done for children they had never even met.”
Lovell and his class at Spanish Oaks Elementary in Spanish Fork sat down together at the beginning of the holiday season to discuss possible ways for them to celebrate together. To really understand the “true meaning of Christmas,” they decided to do a service project.
Lovell feels like his students are reaching the age where they are becoming more aware of the world outside themselves. To take advantage of this, Lovell presents opportunities to his students to reach outside themselves and make a positive impression on the world.
The students came to the consensus that they would do a reading marathon. The donors would match minutes read by a student over the course of a week with a penny per minute. Once the week had concluded, the totals would be collected and the money would then be donated to a nonprofit organization of the students’ choice.
The class named the project “Pennies for Peace” and invited Ms. Babcock’s fifth-grade class to join in on the project. Together the two classes read for over 18,897 minutes.
“When I was collecting my money, my grandpa gave me an extra twenty dollars and told me I could keep it or donate it,” said Ella, a student in Lovell’s class. “After thinking for a minute about things I could buy for myself, I decided to donate it to the Utah Foster Care children because I wanted to make this Christmas special for other kids. I felt like by giving gifts to others I received the gift of feeling happy and good inside.”
Lovell hopes in years to come this will become a tradition but that the students will take ownership of it and decide what organization to give to and what activity is done.
“It is one of my personal goals as a teacher to help students understand one of the great ironies of life,” Lovell said, “that when you serve others in need you almost always benefit more than the person who you serve.”