TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa mother and her daughter are fundraising for Ukraine, and a first grade class is helping out.
Karen Conroy owns a company that sells fundraising products. She said she approached her daughter Mary Grace’s teacher at Bayshore Christian School, Annette Sullivan, to see if she was going to discuss the ongoing invasion of Ukraine with her class, and if it was possible for the class to do a fundraising service project to raise money.
“There’s still a lot of demand for fundraising for Ukraine and they really do need our help. The one thing that I really don’t think people realize is right now the war is still going on, but it’s going to come to an end at some point and these people need to start over,” Conroy said. “You think about it, their homes are destroyed. People who have had business, they’re destroyed. It’s going to take a lot for these people to rebuild and just function.”
Conroy’s daughter and her class began selling $5 bracelets in Ukraine’s colors with the word “faith” to family, friends and neighbors.
Sullivan said she thought the fundraiser sounded easy for her students to do, and it was also something that would help them feel like they can make a difference. It also related closely to their Bible studies at the time.
“Then I saw that our Bible lessons coming up were on following Jesus by sharing and caring for others, so I messaged [Karen] right away when I was making my lesson plans and said, ‘hey, this is going to be the perfect time to do this. Let’s go ahead and make it happen,’” Sullivan said.
She also found it important for the students to be able to explain why they are helping raise funds for the country, rather than their parents explaining it on their behalf.
“I’ve heard so many stories of them telling people that they know people in Ukraine are leaving their homes and need help and they want to help them,” Sullivan said. “I’m so proud of them for knowing that they can be leaders and help others and care for others and really taking what we’re learning in Bible and applying it to their life.”
The first-grade class is tracking what they have raised in Sullivan’s classroom.
“[We] have a temperature thingy and it tells how much money we have and we color it in each time we have money and that’s how we keep track of it. We color it in,” Mary Grace explained.
As of Monday, Sullivan’s students have raised almost $840 in less than a week.
“We actually had to change our goal, because it was $850 which would have been $50 per student, but we had to change it to $1,000, because they’re already there, essentially. So it was so amazing to see them really take this project and run with it,” she said.
The money will be donated to a Ukrainian church in St. Petersburg with a direct line to send aide to the country.
Conroy said the bracelets are an inexpensive way to raise funds. She donated the bracelets through her company, Fundraising For A Cause. She said the bracelets are about 50 cents each to resell for a fundraiser.
“The bracelets are such a way that young people want them all the way to elderly people. It’s just one of those universal items that everybody likes,” Conroy said.
To purchase a bracelet through Mary Grace Conroy, you can send $5 to her mother’s Venmo account, @karconroy. Those interested should be sure to include their mailing address. Those who donate will receive a “thank you” note drawn by Mary Grace, along with bracelets ordered.
The class is accepting donations through April 12.
“It really is amazing how they just have come together as a unit and have this passion and mission for raising this money for the Ukraine people, which is just so great,” said Conroy.