South Charlotte

Students warm up to the idea of giving

A flier that came with a Scholastic Book Clubs order form gave Monique Samperi-Brooks an idea for changing this year's second-grade winter parties at Elizabeth Lane Elementary School in Matthews.

For every pair of pajamas children donated for needy children, according to the flier, Scholastic would add a book. Samperi-Brooks, a room parent for a second-grade class at Elizabeth Lane, thought the kids were at a good age to learn more about giving during the holiday season.

"Instead of the kids always receiving goodies at these parties, we thought it would be nice for them to start giving back," Samperi-Brooks said.

The other room parents thought the idea was "fabulous," Samperi-Brooks said, so the parents designed a party that focused on helping others and having fun. The only goodie students took home was a bag of hot-chocolate mix, chocolate chips and marshmallows - which they could give to someone else as a gift.

"I thought it was a really good opportunity for the students to give back, because a lot of my (students) are fortunate," said second-grade teacher Kim Phifer. "It just makes my heart feel good that they want to give back."

Instead of spending money allocated for the party on crafts, the room parents bought only hot chocolate supplies and spent the rest on pajamas.

The 180 students in second grade were invited to wear their pajamas to the party last week. In Phifer's class, 100 percent of the students at the party participated.

"It's a way of reminding them of the children who don't have brand new and warm fuzzy pajamas and a book to read before they go to bed," Samperi-Brooks said.

Elizabeth Lane Principal Tara Lynn Sullivan said having a winter party fundraiser was a new experience for her and the Elizabeth Lane staff. "I think the kids learned the importance of working together to accomplish a goal as well as to give to others during a time of need," she said.

A box set up in the classroom was filled with donated pajamas for children of all ages. All of the pajamas - 133 sets in total from the school's eight second-grade classes - will be given to children in Charlotte.

Phifer said the fundraiser reinforced character traits the school already is teaching, such as caring.

"I was just really happy to give some pajamas," said Darien Pisacano, 7.

"I think they can help kids."

Griffin Brooks, who donated four sets of pajamas, said the clothing would help children during the winter weather.

"It's going to be cold, and if they don't have pajamas they'd probably get cold," he said. "They need pajamas to stay warm."