We write a lot of different things around the office here. From marketing collateral, to Friday Stories, to thank-you letters, we are constantly challenged to find ways to talk about the impact wheelchairs have on the lives of recipients and express our gratitude to the people who make that possible. Today, the tables were turned as Mrs. Kohler’s 3rd grade class at St. Joachim Catholic School sent us a little bit of the story behind their efforts to lift 24 people into a wheelchair of their very own–and they taught us a thing or two about why it’s important to help others.

school presentation 2 - CopyA couple of years ago Mrs. Kohler heard about Free Wheelchair Mission through a message posted to her university’s alumni association message boards. “I chose Free Wheelchair Mission to be a project for my students because our school works to incorporate Christian service into our students’ daily lives.”

Part of that goal is met by teaching students to make good decisions and be responsible global citizens. “The students read stories from the FWM website and through those stories they became very eager to help in any way they could…students can take ownership of their choices with this project because I don’t allow them to simply ask their parents for the money; they have to come up with a way to earn $2.25 and must make some sort of personal sacrifice as a part of it.”

bake sale - CopyThe students were eager to help in any way they could and came up with a host of ways to do so. Lauren H. set up a hot cocoa stand with her family (on a particularly rainy day no less) and raised over $200 just on her own. Alicia made bracelets by hand and sold them outside her house. Georgia arranged and played a violin concert for her family. Other students did tasks like walking neighbor’s dogs, doing yard work around the neighborhood, held garage sales, and did other odds and ends around the house. By the end of their project Mrs. Kohler’s students had raised $1,725.12—enough to give 24 people a wheelchair.

school presentation 4 - Copy

What absolutely floored us here at the office were some of the responses the students gave when we asked them a few questions.

One thing we asked was, “what would you say if you could go to a wheelchair distribution?”

–       Ella: “Do you like your new wheelchair? We worked really hard because we wanted you to have mobility.”

–       Ryan:  “I’m happy that I wasn’t selfish and I did this project because now you can move around better.”

–       Reese: “How do you feel?  Does it feel different to be in a wheelchair?”

–       Lauren T.: “I’m so happy that you will be able to move around!”

school presentation 3 - Copy

We also wanted to know if they had learned anything from the project. Sofia told us, “I learned that it is always good to help others and not just yourself.” Other answers included:

–       “A lot of people in different countries are not as lucky as we are in America.”

–       “More people than I expected need wheelchairs and can’t get them in their countries.”

–       “It can make you feel good to help people.”

–       “So many people in other countries have to be carried around.”

–       “It’s never too late to help someone.

–       “Even a little sacrifice can help someone a lot.”

–       “Even third graders can make a difference.”

In a nutshell, these kids are awesome and we wanted to tell Mrs. Kohler’s class thank you for giving 24 people the gift of mobility—and thank you for reminding us why it’s important to help people in need. Thank you!

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