Children in Haylee Schaefer's fifth- and sixth-grade class have a kind-hearted project up their sleeves.
As a class, they studied the news coming from the East Coast about the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. The kids were distraught by the idea that other students just like them had lost their homes and their schools and had to start all over. But how could they help?
The Heritage Primary Elementary School class, along with Janine Jacinto's fifth-graders, designed a pale yellow bracelet with the words "Little Hands Can Help" imprinted in the rubber. These sell for $3 each, and the money will go to kids on the East Coast who need help.
"It's an election year, but they can't vote. They can't get jobs. This is their way to contribute," said Schaefer. "No matter how small your hands are, you can still make a difference in this world."
Schaefer and Jacinto passed out five bracelets at a time to each student. When those are sold, the kids turn in the money and pick up another batch. At first, it didn't seem like the project could go very far.
But $200 came in after the first weekend.
There was $400 after the first week.
As of last Friday, the students had raised nearly $700 by selling the bracelets.
"I told them, 'I don't know where you're selling these, but go for it,'" said Schaefer. "Everyone was just so excited."
Most students at Heritage come from struggling socio-economic backgrounds, said Schaefer. But they're willing to give back, and so are their families. Some students have turned in larger donations, like $20 from one mom and $100 from a grandfather, even though the bracelets cost only a few dollars.
"I'm just stunned about the amount of money coming in," said Jacinto.
The students sell to their families, friends and neighbors.
Some parents were reluctant to let their children sell bracelets in the community. Schaefer said one girl only sells them in the classroom, while another student's sister was able to help persuade their mother that it was for a good cause.
Xavier Santoyo tags along with his mom when she goes out shopping, and sells the bracelets to people he meets.
"We're selling these so we can show our support," said Sebastian Torres, 11.
The students haven't picked a specific recipient just yet. They would like the money to go to a school or school district in an area hit hard by the storm.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.