eighth-grader Caroline Peters works hard for her spending money by cleaning up after horses at a nearby barn. But as the devastation in Japan unfolded earlier this month, Caroline, 14, decided she needed to help.
After watching a YouTube clip that showed some pets who were stranded in the tsunami, the Redmond girl decided to donate $50 from her most recent paycheck to her school's Chew for Charity fundraiser, a spontaneous effort to raise money for the Red Cross.
Her parents decided to match the contribution, bringing Caroline's total donation to $100.
"Watching that made me feel bad," Caroline said of video footage from Japan. "I don't really need the money. It was just for clothes or other stuff that I wanted."
Caroline wasn't the only Evergreen student who felt an urge to do something in response to the disaster. In total, the school raised $2,443 through the fundraiser, which gave students the chance to chew gum at school in exchange for a small donation.
The fundraiser was the idea of the school's government and leadership club. Ninth-grader Sydne Dresser said students in the group decided to help after hearing some teachers talk about the devastation.
The leadership students wanted to provide some sort of incentive to get their classmates to donate, Sydne said. At first, they thought about allowing donors to wear hats in the building, but they decided against that idea because it might not catch on as well with girls.
"This was just spontaneous," Sydne said of the gum idea.
But many of the students who contributed weren't in it for the gum. Ninth-grader Harry Engel, who doesn't regularly chew gum, donated $50 that he received as a birthday gift from a relative.
Harry, 15, said he felt compelled to help out because he had just finished reading a book about Habitat for Humanity and was affected by TV footage of damage from the earthquake and tsunami.
"I felt that they needed my help," he said.
Evergreen Principal Jan Olson said she was proud of the students, who also raised $1,600 for relief efforts in Haiti last year.
"They just wanted to do something," Olson said. "I think what we've sort of created is that culture ... that even a little bit helps."
Other Redmond schools join in the effort
Other local schools are also raising money for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
At , each class is collecting funds and making origami paper cranes for a Japanese children's program or school. Many older students at Rush are foregoing recess time to complete the project.
Meanwhile, five fourth-graders at are holding a donation drive at school this week to raise money for the Red Cross. The students behind the effort are Jamie Pippin, Anna Captain, Michalle Dmitrovsky, Adrian Gomez and Vivian Gray.
If you would like to contribute to either of these efforts, contact Rush Elementary at 425-936-2690 or Audubon Elementary at 425-936-2500.