After Beth Gibney became principal of Pierce School in Bennington last school year, she and PTO President Amy Powell began talking about fundraising.
The project to pursue seemed logical – raising money to upgrade the school’s playground.
“We have a teacher here who went to this school, and it’s the same playground, and she’s well into her 20s,” Gibney said.
However, the school chose an atypical method to raise the money. Students sent emails to family and friends, asking them to make donations to support acts of kindness.
“We’re not selling stuff,” Gibney said. “If we’re putting good into the world, people can see that’s a worthy cause.”
It seems to be working.
“In a really short period of time, we’ve already raised $7,000, and it’s only been a week,” she said. “The kids are so excited to be able to do these acts of kindness. It’s a core value of our school. It’s really a good opportunity, and we benefit in multiple ways.”
Gibney said activities have included picking up trash, doing more recycling and sending notes to senior facilities and hospitals and painting “kindness rocks” that they leave around town for people to find. According to Powell, goodie baskets for police and fire and letters of appreciation for police, fire, hospitals and people who provide services have also proven popular.
Powell’s 6-year-old daughter Brooklyn drew Easter pictures and handed them out to residents at the senior living center where Powell’s grandmother lives.
“She was so excited to hand them out to people when we were there,” she said.
On Friday, the school will hold “Black Bear Day” in conjunction with Earth Day. Activities will include cleaning up around town and in Bruce Edes Forest, as well as working on the benches at the school.
This is the first time Pierce School has done this kind of fundraiser, although Peterborough Elementary School did something similar last year. Gibney said the Pierce PTO worked to organize it, and Raise Craze set up the fundraising platform.
“It’s a very light lift for a whole lot of benefit,” Gibney said, adding that she hopes businesses will also get on board.
Powell praised Gibney’s willingness to do something different.
“She’s been really, really great at coming up with ideas that aren’t the same as what people do all the time,” she said.
Powell said the students are excited about the fundraiser.
“They really feel like they are part of it,” she said. “It promoted that sense of doing good, especially when the world’s been kind of crazy the last couple years.”
Powell also said that while parental involvement has been up in general, parents who may not have been as involved before want to be part of the fundraiser.
“It’s been great to see parents coming together and wanting to support the school,” she said.
The fundraiser continues through May 6. The goal is $35,000, and the overall goal for the playground is $50,000.
“I think it’ll be more money than that, but it’ll at least get us going,” Gibney said, adding that she plans to apply for grants for the rest.
To participate, go to the school’s website, bes.convalsd.net, or send a check to Pierce School PTO, 19 Main St., Bennington, N.H. 03442.