CANANDAIGUA — When students at St. Mary’s School heard about the earthquake and resulting tsunamis that devastated many areas along the Indian Ocean Dec. 26, they knew they wanted to do something to help the victims, even if it meant eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Admittedly, that wasn’t a huge sacrifice for most of the children, but their efforts came from the heart.
The majority of the school’s students chose to buy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of bringing a bagged lunch on Jan 20. Parent volunteers made the sandwiches, which were sold for $1 each. For an extra 75 cents, students could also purchase a bag of potato chips and a fruit cup. All of the proceeds, which totaled more than $300, were sent to the tsunami relief efforts, according to Lori Starr, the parent who coordinated the fundraiser.
Starr’s son, Nicholas, is in sixth grade at St. Mary’s. He came home from school one day in mid-January and told his mother that he wanted to do something to help victims of the tsunamis. His mother began looking for a way the students could be actively involved with the relief efforts without taking too much time away from studying for midterm exams, which were given in January.
Since St. Mary’s doesn’t have a cafeteria, hot lunches are sold three days a week, and students bring their own lunches the rest of the time, Starr said. Starr, some other parents and the school’s principal, Ann Marie Deutsch, discussed the idea and decided to hold “PB and J Day” on one of the days that hot lunches were not offered.
“A very simple lunch also sends an important message,” Starr said. “There are people who have no food or water right now. There are so many children over there that are orphans now.”
Order forms were sent home the week before PB and J Day, and students were able to sign up for the fruit cups, chips and sandwiches. Students had their choice of either strawberry or grape jelly, or they could choose to have a peanut butter sandwich without jelly, Starr said, noting that strawberry jelly was the clear favorite, although grape jelly wasn’t far behind.
Parent volunteers also held a bake sale during PB and J Day and during the next day’s lunch periods. Money raised from these sales was added to the PB and J Day proceeds, Starr said. Students were extremely supportive of the fundraising effort, with the majority of students ordering sandwiches, she added.
Sixth-graders Todd Alexander, Jory Denome and Max Negley each supported PB and J Day by ordering sandwiches, fruit cups and bags of chips.
Todd, 11, and Jory, 12, said they were moved to help tsunami victims after seeing pictures of the affected areas on television.
“I heard about (the disaster) and I thought I should figure out a way to help,” Jory said.
“We thought we could make a difference,” Todd added.
Max, 11, said he supported the effort “Just to help (the victims) out, and because I like peanut butter and jelly.”
Many of the students said they were shocked to hear the extent of the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunamis. Fifth-grader Julia Rodriguez said when she heard about the disaster, her first thought was, “Oh my gosh, how could this happen?”
“I was so sad about those children who were killed,” she added.
Julia, 10, hoped the money she contributed by buying her lunch on PB and J Day would help provide clothes and aid for tsunami victims.
Classmate Kyle Lay, 10, said he was saddened to hear how many people had perished in the disaster. He ordered a sandwich because he wanted to help, but it didn’t hurt that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are his favorite food, he said.
Fellow fifth-grader Lance Stuart, 11, said he likes helping other people, whether they are tsunami victims in need of food, clothing and shelter or classmates who need money or have forgotten to bring lunch. Classmate Ben Couture, 10, said when he first heard about the tsunami, he was afraid the same thing could happen in this area. He knew his fear was irrational, however, “especially since I live on the top of a very high hill.”
Sixth-graders George VanBrooker, 11; Ben Meath, 12; Oscar Sosa, 12; and Jadon O’Donnell, 11, bought sandwiches and baked goods on PB and J Day, but they also pooled their money together and made a $5 donation to the bake sale. Many students said their classes also pray and collect change for tsunami victims.
“It’s not really much, but since I know a lot of the school is doing it, it will help,” sixth-grader Bristol Utter, 11, said of the students’ efforts.