It all started one day in Spanish class.
“We were studying the verb comprar (to buy) in Spanish,” explained Carolina Miralles, Mack-Boulder’s Spanish teacher. “I asked the students if they wanted to make a fictional market to practice their skills at the end of the unit. (At the end of the previous unit, we had a pretend restaurant with plastic food and paper money.) The kids said that they wanted to, but then several raised their hands and told me they would not like to make it with with pretend money; they would like to do it with real money and sell real things. When I asked why, they told me: “Do you know there have been hurricanes in Puerto Rico? They don’t have water, or electricity and many buildings are down. We would like to donate the money to Puerto Rico instead.”
Carolina agreed, and one of the 3rd grade parents, Elena Hernandez-Rosenblum, provided the contact to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the main public Pediatric Hospital in Puerto Rico. It had flooded and had roof and machinery damage. Babies had been placed in hallways due to the unavailability of the NICU. The 3rd graders thought this was the perfect place to donate their earnings.
The students then got to work. Using their own time, they made items to sell: leather tags, crocheted bracelets and necklaces, knitted hats and mittens, wool stress balls, craft wood airplanes, leather bracelets, tree ornaments, ojos de dios, origami purses, stuffies, illustrated books, drawings, super hero capes, emoji jars, glass pendants, and cookies. One 3rd grader who couldn’t be there the day of the market asked his parents to make a donation, and then he matched it with his own money. Another 3rd grader convinced his parents to change the departure time for the winter break trip so he could be there to sell his product.
The 3rd graders’ hard work paid off. The Mercado was a roaring success—they made $750 dollars to donate to the NICU, and they had the opportunity to practice their Spanish. The head of the Hospital Pediatrico Foundation was incredibly thankful. There are plans to have a Skype call with the students to officially present the funds.