The fine arts students at Community House Middle School presented more than its Spring Concert in early May, they donated more than $2,000 to Purple Heart Homes USA.
This partnership and fundraising effort developed because the middle school wanted to emphasize community-service as a teaching tool. The driving force behind this initiative is Fine Arts Booster Club chairwoman Donna Rudolph, 44, and a BridgeHampton resident. She is the liaison with Purple Heart Homes, a national nonprofit created by veterans for veterans. Based in North Carolina, its mission is to make life easier for elderly and disabled veterans by providing housing.
In February, Dale Beatty, founder of Purple Heart Homes USA and 2013’s first CNN Hero, kicked off the fundraising campaign in an assembly at Community House Middle School.
“It was a ‘Capital Campaign,’ ” said Rudolph.
Flyers were sent home with all the students who attended the school assembly in late February.
The initiative began with the CHMS drama group, The Cavalier Players’ presentation of “A Pair of Shorts,” two, one-act plays titled “Sergeant Brave” and “Darcy’s Cinematic Life.”
“Sergeant Brave,” an original work written by CHMS drama teacher Terry Gabbard, deals with the struggles and sacrifices many military families have to face. “Sergeant Brave” received a superior rating at the recent North Carolina Theatre Conference.
“Students in the theatre arts step into the shoes of the characters they portray,” said Gabbard. “This teaches them empathy. Young adolescents sometimes have difficulty thinking beyond themselves. Theatre has a unique ability to let them see beyond themselves. The first part of change in the arts comes from within.”
Both “Sergeant Brave” and “Darcy’s Cinematic Life” weave a theme about how young people use the power of their imagination to deal with a struggle in their lives. Ticket sales “A Pair of Shorts” added $965 to the donation.
CHMS art teacher Kathy Bell created a curriculum through the Art By Me program that allowed students to create heart related art work. Parents, families and friends could purchase coffee mugs, mouse pads, smartphone covers, notepads, and more featuring the students’ original art. This effort earned about $500.
Students decorated plain white hearts and dedicated each to a hero such as someone in the military, a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend. These smaller hearts are assembled into a larger heart that is on display in the middles school’s main hallway.
Students were also encouraged to participate in “hat day.” They could pay a dollar to wear a hat to school for a “Hats Off to our Heroes.” Prizes were given for the most creative hats. This effort raised $281.
Choral director Jan Lauro, and dance teacher Robin Shore direct the Spring Concert which showcases the Community House Middle School Choir, The Choraliers, and their Honors Dance Program, the Cavalettes. Proceeds from the concert were dedicated in part to this fundraising campaign.
“What I hope above all is that they (the students) have learned that the arts can be a vehicle for positive change in a global community,” said Rudolph, mother of three children, Rachel, 9, a third-grader at Elon Elementary, and 13-year old twin boys, C. J. and John Lee at Community House Middle School. The boys are Cavalier Players and were cast members in both plays.
“This whole effort has made me think about how much our veterans have sacrificed. It has been really cool to raise money to help them live more comfortably and show how much we appreciate them,” said John Lee.