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Colorado students respond to Japan's disaster needs

6:08 PM, Mar 15, 2011   |    comments
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"We decided we need to do something," Devyn Schneider, a fifth grader at Patterson, said.

Devyn, Tabi Daniels and Zoe McCartney approached their principal asking for a brief reprieve on their dress code to allow kids to wear hats to school on Friday.

"Each person who wears a hat has to pay a dollar," Zoe, a fifth grader, said.

Tabi, also a fifth grader, says it's a way for students to feel involved.

"I do think people feel rewarded," Tabi said. "They'll feel that they helped Japan in some sort of way."

If it's not creating new fundraisers, it's changing current ones. At Shelton Elementary in Golden, students decided to focus their annual philanthropy "Shelton has a Heart" from the World Wildlife Fund to helping victims in Japan.

"The animals could go later and they would still be here," Ben Romig, a fifth grader at Shelton, said. "But the people in Japan might not still be here tomorrow."

Students at Shelton painted rocks to sell. Their goal is to raise $11,000.

"They have a sense of what they're doing," Stephen Nye, a teacher at Shelton, said. "It really matters to people. It's not an abstract concept for them."

Romig says kids feel an obligation to help.

"Just one of us can't do anything, but if we can put our efforts together, we can do anything we want," Romig said.

Efforts like this are materializing in schools from Denver to Boulder, as well. The Denver Center for International Studies is raising money through its UNICEF club. Foothill Elementary in Boulder is raising money through its Community Service Club.

Students at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood are putting together a package which would include a banner of support and 1,000 paper cranes to send to Japan.

Fairview High School in Boulder, along with Boulder High, Monarch High, Nederland High and Centaurus High have a Japanese Exchange Program with sister schools in Japan. Students will be collecting donations through those groups. Horizon K-8 in Boulder is also working on a fully student-run fundraiser.

At Patterson, students know "Hat Day" is simple, but they know that it is the thought that counts.

"I don't think we really have a goal," Zoe said. "It's just: Raise as much money as we can."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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