Dozens of Pittsfield Elementary students will be warmer this winter thanks to the hard work of some University of Michigan students and the generosity of many.
U-M’s Sociology 225 is a class called Project Community that gives students the opportunity to learn about sociology in the classroom and apply it in different settings.
At the end of the semester, the students at each Project Community location are asked to find a way to give back to that site.
“At Pittsfield, we could have settled with something like movie night or a talent show—which it turned out they already have—that would be a fun experience,” said Will McCormack, one of the six Project Community students at Pittsfield.
But he said that after talking to Pittsfield teachers Shannon Lauer and Jen Duman, he learned that the best way to give back would be to provide these students gloves for the winter.
“I had noticed during the frigid week in November the need for all types of winter gear, as many children would go outside into the freezing temperatures with a jacket and no hat or gloves, and many of the students that had gloves shared them with two or three other siblings or had gloves that did not adequately protect them from the cold,” he said. “While the staff at Pittsfield does so much for the kids, we realized that the biggest impediment to the education at Pittsfield may be the lack of appropriate cold weather gear which would leave the students cold as they came into school and came in from recess.”
The students then decided that the most longstanding impact they could have on the school community would be to sponsor a glove fundraiser, and set a goal of raising $400 for new gloves.
When they began to approach local businesses, they learned about the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for all sorts of events and challenging circumstances. So they started their own GoFundMe page to see how it would go.
“It not only worked, but we blew past our initial goal of $500 and we are very close to meeting the $1,000 goal because of the great campaigning by all members of our class and the Pittsfield staff,” said McCormack.
“It’s a great feeling knowing how much everybody helped out, and how it was a such a community school effort. We got donations from across the country. It was amazing.”
With the money raised, they bought 72 pairs of gloves, as well as hats, snow pants, and coats. The clothing will be distributed to the children most in need.
Pittsfield Elementary Principal Carol Shakarian noted that Project Community has been volunteering at the school for a number of years, and the students are particularly generous at the end of the semester.
“This year, they’ve knocked it out of the park,” she said. “They’ll keep some very warm fingers for the entirety of the winter semester, so we’re very grateful.”
Teacher Jen Duman said that even prior to the clothing drive, Project Community students have been very helpful in the classroom.
“They’ve really been willing to jump in and help in every aspect we need,” she said.