On Oct.13 Williamston Elementary School’s annual fun run event raised over $30,000 for the district — the most money raised in eight years of the event.
Students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade went outside to run and exercise for 45 minutes with volunteers, parents, and teachers for donations.
The fun run event is coordinated by the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) for the elementary schools in Williamston.
Students began accepting donations from the entire community on Sept. 11 and ended on Oct. 18 with a total of $33,263 according to PTSA coordinator Camilla Fritts.
The event has raised money for the elementary for about eight years and Fritts said last year was the first year she and another PTSA member organized it.
They’ve exceeded their goals for two years consecutively ever since.
The goal for last year was $17,500, but they went beyond that and reached $29,850. In years before the event didn’t raise more than $20,000. Fritts said this year they took a shot at $30,000 and it has been by far the most the schools have ever received in donations.
“What is so fun is that, it’s just such a community event,” Fritts said. “All of the students are active in it and we have students that have literally donated $0.23.”
“Clearly they emptied out their piggy bank or did a chore or something because they brought in a little baggy with their name on it and $0.23 in there, it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Fritts said the fundraiser is so important to both their schools, Discover and Explorer Elementary, because Williamston schools are now within the lowest state funded district.
“They’re trying to close the gap between the higher funded schools and the lower funded schools and so in the last couple years, they’ve raised up the bottom of the list to meet us. So we weren’t always at the bottom of the list, but now we’re in that group,” she said.
Fritts said with being one of the lowest funded districts in the state, the schools don’t have as much money to do things like the PTSA does, so 100 percent of the donations will go directly to them.
Principal of Discovery Elementary, Patrick VanRemmen said he and Principal Kelly Campbell of Explorer Elementary have not met to discuss any additional needs for the schools, but it will definitely go toward the enhancement of educational programming.
According to Williamston Elementary physical education teacher and PTSA member Lynette Pemble the funds will go towards technology in classrooms and arts and integration, which allows students to travel to Michigan State University’s Wharton Center free of charge for a professional performance.
Pemble said they like to give their kids the art experience along with what they offer at school.
“A lot of schools are cutting music, sports and that sort of thing and we find it to be very important; so we really support the arts integration program,” Fritts said.
The PTSA also offers a $125 grant, from the funds, to each teacher for any classroom supplies they request.
Fritts believes this year was so successful with donations because their angle was aimed more toward the community.
“We involved a lot of the businesses and a lot of the people in the community to help make us successful,” she said.
Fritts said at least 100 people came to participate with the children. The local grocery store even donated popsicles to each child that participated.
Pemble said the city of Williamston really has a strong sense of community within the schools and that makes it a great place for people to live and students to learn.
“Our teachers work very hard and parents and families see those results through their child’s successes and opportunities in school. So when we ask for donations for these enrichment programs for arts and technologies parents and people in the community are willing to give,” Pemble said.
“It’s just a real unique sense of community here, our community supports our schools.”
Pemble said the children just absolutely love the fun run as well as the prizes they receive for participating.
“We thought this was a healthy way for our kids to raise money. We’re not asking them to sell candy, or cookie dough, or pizza or anything like that; we let the community know exactly what the money is going to go for and then the kids have to run for it, it’s a really healthy way for the kids to take part in the fundraising,” she said.
Out of 732 children in the elementary, Fritts said 51 percent of enrolled students participated in donation and they believe it could increase next year if each student gives at least $1 for an additional incentive.
“The kids just really look forward to it, it’s a really fun day for them,” said Fritts. “Those children that are donating the $0.23 or $1, they want to help their school so bad that they’re doing it on their own.”