Students partner with Red Cross to help Oklahoma families

  • Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:01 a.m.
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT
Students Zack Phllips, left, and Chadd Hooper donate their pretend bucks toward Oklahoma disaster relief at the Center for Innovative Learning. As a result, the Aiken Red Cross office will seek $10 from community residents as a way to help familes impacted by the tornadoes and the center's students who contributed to the effort.
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT Students Zack Phllips, left, and Chadd Hooper donate their pretend bucks toward Oklahoma disaster relief at the Center for Innovative Learning. As a result, the Aiken Red Cross office will seek $10 from community residents as a way to help familes impacted by the tornadoes and the center's students who contributed to the effort.

Shavoneeya Curry had enough “CIL” bucks – pretend money – to purchase lunch and more at the Center for Innovative Learning at Pinecrest Wednesday.

CIL Bucks are pretend money as rewards for positive behavior, more than enough for a delivered lunch from a restaurant. Curry gave away 129 bucks and overall, the Aiken School District facility’s students donated the equivalent of $4,881.

With the help of the Aiken’s American Red Cross office, the pretend money is going to become real.

Don Cheeks, the Red Cross board chairman, said the agency will seek donations from the community as a way to help Oklahoma families and also recognize the students’ support.

“I thought it was pretty sad about Oklahoma,” Curry said. “I never went through anything like that and it’s a hurtful feeling. It feels good now that I can help be a part of this.”

Throughout the school year, the faculty has utilized the popular CIL Bucks for the students as a “catch them being good” program, said Lisa Raiford, the 2012-13 district teacher of the year. Every Wednesday, the children and teenagers could use some of their bucks to turn in for various treats and other items.

Last week, the children got a chance to reward the teachers for their good classroom instruction. The faculty members decided to donate their own CIL Bucks to shop for gifts to send to Oklahoma.

“Our students then said they would like to do that, too,” Raiford said. “They are learning empathy, learning to share with others and to give of themselves. I think that’s one of the most important lessons of life.”

The Red Cross responded immediately to the tornadoes, Cheeks said. The agency nationally has distributed more than 170,000 packages of tarps, trash bags, rakes and shovels. Seven volunteers from the Palmetto District – which stretches from Aiken to as far away as Myrtle Beach – left for Oklahoma.

The students’ gesture at the center “is marvelous,” said Cheeks. “Seeing these young kid sacrifice what they’re doing and helping other people is amazing. It’s what our country is grounded on. We will appeal to the community to match the (CIL) dollars. People can match them online or call or come by our Aiken office.”

Another student, Makayla Carroll described the tornadoes and their aftermath as “heartbreaking.”

“I gave some of my CIL Bucks and I sent clothes over there that I paid for,” she said. “I’m very sad about the children who are now homeless.”

The rewards program has been a real motivation for all the kids, said Ben Osborne, the Center for Innovative Learning principal. The disaster relief efforts have notched things up to a new level.

“This is a real eye-opener for me,” Osborne said, “seeing the kids so willing to give up what they have. All those who have done so hopefully have gained something from the experience.”

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