Turning around to see 891 students, teachers and administrators at Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, CA, sing “Happy Birthday” to me a few years ago lit up my sky. But then came the Roman candles. These dedicated students – 87% of whom are on the government-assisted lunch program – gave The Jester & Pharley Phund a check for $669 to give Jester books and dolls to hospitalized children.
“Our students have loved all of the Reading Makes A Difference programs you’ve brought to our school,” After-School Program Coordinator Rea Young explained. “We all wanted to thank you for pushing us to read and inspiring us to make a difference in the lives of other kids.”
When our Introductory Assemblies wrapped that September, Jefferson Jaguars began devouring page after page in a three-week read-a-thon. Their reading generated the donation of Jester books and dolls to Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach as part of our donor-sponsored RMD literacy and outreach program.
But they wanted to do more. “All my aunties broke their piggy banks,” third-grader Vanessa Uvera proudly said with a big smile, handing me a colorful bouquet of flowers. Students started collecting loose change and asking friends and relatives to help them give additional Miller patients Jester books and dolls. Seeing students with limited family income going into their piggy banks to make life better for others brought tears to my eyes then ‒ and now.