In her 20 years in the education system, Louisa County Middle School art teacher Gail Carlin couldn’t help but notice what she calls a “natural inclination” by her students to want to be helpful, both in school and around the community.
Six years ago, Carlin decided to combine her expertise with crafts and her students’ compassion, holding an annual sale of goods her students created to raise money for charities.
“I know that we make a lot of stuff in [class], so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to combine what we do in here and help the kids out to give them a chance to do something wonderful,” Carlin said.
This year, Carlin and her students sold more than 200 ornaments to fellow students, teachers and parents. In doing so, they raised $450 for The Community Cupboard, a food outreach program directed by the Louisa County Resource Council. This was the second consecutive year that the fundraiser has assisted the organization.
Carlin’s students worked weeks in advance to create the intricately designed ornaments. Marbleized candy canes, gingerbread men and variegated dolls fashioned out of tightly wound fabric were offered for sale. Though a few school days that Carlin had originally planned to dedicate to creating the pieces were lost due to inclement weather, Carlin said that her students worked overtime to make sure they maximized the amount of ornaments that could be sold.
“It made me feel good to see how hard my students cared about this,” Carlin said.
And in talking with the students, it became apparent that it wasn’t just their artistic skills that were honed in the process, but their leadership and social skills as well. The students manned the table to sell the items to fellow classmates during the school’s lunch period, giving them a chance to become bold salesmen for the cause.
“I think it’s pretty cool, because you get to meet the people that buy the ornaments and they tell you why they’re buying it,” eighth grader Chelsea Adkins said. “Then you know you’re doing it for the right cause, for helping people.
“It’s really fun to do and help out with everything,” added eighth grader Becka Muller. “I like to help people, but I’m normally pretty shy … It’s something I can do with something I love, and it helps people.”
LCMS Principal Lee Downey, who dropped by the booth to make a few purchases, said the fundraiser is a good glimpse into the character demonstrated by Carlin on a regular basis.
To read the entire story, see the Jan. 9 edition of The Central Virginian.