Students and staff at Jim Stone Elementary School are raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Principal Mark Lewis said periodically throughout the year each grade in the school takes on a philanthropy project, and Make-A-Wish is always in January.
"[In] fourth grade, every Friday if a student or staff member wants to wear a hat, then they bring $1," he said. "At the end of January, we will take all that and we will donate that to Make-A-Wish and [they] keep up with it."
Lewis said the school has been participating for the past six years ago in honor of his son, Adam, who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 3, and another former student. He said Adam, who is now in middle school, was even granted a wish and got to go to Atlantis and swim with dolphins that had been rescued after Hurricane Katrina and brought there to heal.
Lewis said while the trip "never completely takes away what the child went through," it can be healing for families.
"When you see kids be so sick for so long … in our case … it signified the end of a really long journey," he said. "These kids go through so much. I know my son went through 39 months of [chemotherapy] everyday and spinal taps. But, you have kids that go through so much and for our kids to be able to show that character and to care for kids who aren’t as fortunate as they are … it’s really heartwarming."
Lewis said the school has done the fundraiser every year since.
"It’s so good for the kids to see what they’re doing … for them to go out and realize that they’re making a difference in the community," he said. "[The students] are excited about it because it’s teaching them the art of helping others."
Lewis said the school was already thinking about getting involved with the organization, but after his son was chosen and received his wish, the decision was solidified.
"We would have contributed to it regardless of my kids illness," he said. "When I saw the benefit of not just the experience, but when I met the people at the Make-A-Wish Mid South, the people there absolutely love what they do, they are so caring and they are determined to help absolutely every kid."
Lewis said the teachers do a great job explaining to the students what are they giving their money and time to be a part of.
"It is so important for them to understand regardless of who [they’re] helping … helping [the students] understand why they’re doing it, who they’re helping and how great of an impact they are having," he said.
So far, Lewis said, they have raised around $200 and have a goal to continue that every week until the fundraiser ends the last Friday of the month.
"This money that we are raising now will go toward a child in Central Arkansas so we’re able to keep it here close," he said. "There are so many agencies that need help, but this [one] is a solid organization. You’re money is well taken care of, it’s near and dear to my heart [and] to see a kid smile like that after going through so much … this is an amazing organization."