HUDSON — Guests at Ellsworth Hill Elementary School on Jan. 31 were greeted by two students with handmade fliers, advertising their Market Day.
The signs told guests that they could purchase magnets and koala bracelets for $1, and pins and beaded bracelets for $1. The signs also described what the money generated would be used for: to help in relief efforts in Australia.
The second-grade students in Katie Hall's class made these signs, plus the items advertised, with the help from their older peers in Hudson High School's MakerSpace Club. Through the Market Day, during three time periods, parents and students came by the tables to look at and purchase the items. Ready to help were students at a cash register and a supervisor to help with sales.
The issue especially hits home with both Hall and Andrew Robitaille, the media specialist and MakerSpace adviser at Hudson High School: both have family ties to Australia. Hall's mother is Australian and she has family living there. Robitaille is a naturalized Australian citizen and his wife is Australian.
"My mom comes from a family that has seven children so we have a lot of family living there. I have visited Australia many times throughout my childhood and into adulthood," Hall said. "It is a fantastic country with breathtaking beaches, landscapes, animals, and most importantly, it is a country with amazing people. All of my memories from visiting Australia bring an instant smile to my face. I especially loved when we have visited over Winter Break and on Christmas Day we celebrated by having a BBQ and going to the beach. Quite a different picture than my holidays in the winter in Ohio."
When the fires started, Hall said she received photographs of the damage from her family.
"My heart was broken," Hall said. "To see the land, animals, and people in such despair was devastating to see. My family shared stories with me and I instantly felt a passion light inside me to do something. I knew exactly who to go to for help, my second graders. They have hearts of gold and they really do come up with better ideas than I can think of. We are proud of our products and we cannot wait for Market Day and to spread global kindness."
Robitaille said he met Hall last year, and found out about their common connection.
"When the bush fires started, we started to talk about what we could do to help," he said.
So students from the high school MakerSpace Club worked with Hall's second-graders to come up with products they could create to sell, Robitaille said. The second-grade students not only created the signs and items to sell, but worked on the stickers that had the prices. It was a team effort, he added.
"Their abilities often are way more than we give them credit for," Robitaille said.
Senior Samantha Betts, 17, who serves as the president of the high school's MakerSpace Club, said she enjoyed working with the younger students.
"It was really nice because they were all so excited about what we were doing," Betts said. "They were so cute, and so willing to learn."
Betts said that this activity can inspire her younger peers to become more involved.
"It's nice to see people encouraging children to try to make a difference," Betts said. "It will plant the seed about trying to make a difference."
Robitaille said the collaborations between Ellsworth Hill and the high school MakerSpace Club have not stopped here. Another second-grade class is working on a separate, unrelated joint project with the club.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC.