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Diplomat Middle students learn lesson of giving

By Staff | Nov 15, 2017

When Hurricane Irma hit two months ago, it devastated many residents in Cape Coral.

But, many Cape residents also responded in the form of monetary donations and time. Among those who helped were students at Diplomat Middle School, who raised more than $6,000 to help the school and local charities.

Friday, the classrooms and individuals who raised the most money were invited to a special breakfast in the cafeteria, where they got certificates and other awards and gave the Caring Center of Cape Coral $2,000 to help area residents obtain food and other services.

Caroline Toadvine, a school counselor who helped organize the event, said the idea came from October being National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.

“We wanted to focus on activities the students can do to actively think about helping others to prevent bullying,” Toadvine said. “For the past two years we have had a fundraising campaign where we raise money for the school and a portion goes to a charity of the students’ choice.”

After Irma hit, it became obvious that people in the community needed help and that the CCCC would be the perfect charity.

Youngsters raised money the entire month and held a walk-a-thon on the last Friday of the month as a way to be actively kind to each other and to celebrate their campaign. Morgan Wright, the local “American Ninja Warrior” competitor, also came to help and school administration danced to “Thriller.”

“We encouraged each child to raise $10. Last year we raised almost $4,000. This year we raised over $6,000, so this program is growing and growing,” Toadvine said.

Student Kasey Luong raised $338 by herself, more than most classes combined, making her the top earner. She said she learned more than just how to ask for money

“I asked my parents’ friends, and they have a lot of friends, so when I saw them I would ask if they would like to donate,” Luong said. “Even if you don’t think you can do something, you can always try your best and can achieve anything.”

Dalton Marlow raised $234 thanks to his did, whose business connections allowed him to raise much of his haul. The experience taught him how great it is to give of yourself.

“Helping people feels amazing because it’s awesome. It’s much better than receiving. I like helping with fundraisers. I’ve been doing it much of my life, which is why I love doing this.”

Benjamin Uphoff, a language arts teacher, raised $523 from his students, just beating Melissa Dahlberg, a civics teacher, who raised $498 to finish second.

“We got a little bit from everyone. We emphasized camaraderie and community and everyone doing their part can make a big contribution,” Uphoff said. “This shows they want to be leaders in their community, classrooms, schools and families, and they care enough to want to make a difference.”

Julie Ferguson, executive director of the CCCC, said she appreciated the gift, as it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“This will provide about 600 families with Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. People have had a difficult time because of the hurricane. We’ve been cut a little short with money, so we’re excited this will allow us to provide people.”

For every dollar raised by CCCC, they are able to obtain $8 in food, meaning the event raised the equivalent of $16,000.

Toadvine told the students at the end of the breakfast that they had gone above thinking of themselves.

“There is so much more joy in giving than receiving. In the month of October you did just that,” Toadvine said.