Oak sixth-graders spearhead fundraiser for hurricane relief

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Courtesy of Rama Mulpuri
Dhruv Vijay, left, and Rohan Gadde organized a school fundraiser to help support Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas. The three classes that raised the most funds got popsicles at lunch.

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas last month and caused widespread destruction, it made headlines around the world. Oak Avenue School sixth-graders Rohan Gadde and Dhruv Vijay heard about the storm and took matters into their own hands, organizing a schoolwide fundraiser to support relief efforts.

Rohan and Dhruv got the entire school involved, with classes from kindergarten through sixth grade raising money. In the end, students donated $1,520.23 to the American Red Cross.

The two boys said they were motivated to make a difference when they learned about the severe damage the hurricane had caused. The Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas Sept. 1 with wind speeds of up to 185 mph. According to the National Weather Service, it is the strongest known tropical system to ever hit the Bahamas.

“Looking at pictures, the devastation of everything was so bad in the Bahamas,” Rohan said.

After Dhruv suggested doing a fundraiser, he and Rohan met with their teacher and the principal. They ran their fundraiser Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 and got bins for students to drop their donations in.

According to their teacher, Laura Kliewer, the students managed the project and didn’t require much help from adults.

“I did very little, really,” Kliewer said. “They came in and asked a couple things, I forwarded some emails, and otherwise it was all them.”

Both Dhruv and Rohan are in Oak Cougar Facilitators, a group of sixth-graders who organize activities on campus. The other facilitators helped them by visiting each classroom and reading a script explaining the fundraiser. They also assisted with counting the money at the end.

To encourage students to participate, the boys decided to offer an incentive.

“I wanted something that would motivate people to donate, so we said the three classes which have the most money in their bins, they’ll get popsicles at lunch,” Rohan said. “And that really got everyone excited.”

In the end, the three fifth grade classes swept the competition, coming in first, second and third.

Dhruv said he was impressed by how eager students across the school were to donate, even those who didn’t initially know much about the hurricane.

“It felt good because we were helping people,” Dhruv said.

Rohan and Dhruv donated the money to the Red Cross last week, and they are already planning another project. For Veterans Day, Oak students are going to write letters to soldiers stationed overseas.

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