From September 27 through October 7, students at Minnetonka Middle School West worked together to raise money for their school – but this wasn’t a typical “sell as much as you can” type of fundraiser. The campaign was called “Anchored in Kindness,” and students earned money toward their cause by collecting one-time pledges to “pay forward” the acts of service or connection they participated in during the event.
LaTisha Deutsch, an MMW parent and PTO member, shared a little about the origins of the campaign. “When I joined the fundraising committee, I was really interested in looking for a fresh approach that would encourage more involvement from our students for our annual fundraising event. I came across Raise Craze, and after learning about their model of giving back by paying it forward, we knew this would be an excellent fit for us. And so, MMW’s Anchored in Kindness was born!” she said. “MMW's Core Values of Kindness, Growth, Integrity, Fun and Community were put into action while raising money for our school; what could be better than that?”
The acts of kindness were as unique as the students themselves, ranging from helping siblings with homework to completing extra chores to help out their families and writing thank-you notes to teachers, first responders, and more. Once completed, students wrote their acts of kindness down on paper leaves, which were displayed on a Kindness Tree located near MMW’s main entrance.
Sixth grader Lily Anderson helped to add the leaves to the tree throughout the event. "I liked taking a break from my day and helping to put up leaves on the Kindness Tree,” she said. “I also enjoyed helping my brother finish his homework to earn an Act of Kindness during the Anchored in Kindness fundraiser.”
“Even if we didn't hit our goal, we couldn't help but be proud of the difference the students were making and we all could use a little extra kindness right now,” said Deutsch. “What I loved most was that regardless of the dollar amount a student raised, they were able to participate in the excitement and fun of the fundraiser by completing Acts of Kindness. We also saw some heartfelt responses from recipients of the Acts of Kindness, and to say that these students really brightened the day of so many in their community is an understatement. For those reasons alone, this fundraiser was a success!”
“Students were excited to share about their acts of kindness. I think the intentional focus on kindness helped them realize that their small everyday actions have a significant cumulative effect,” said MMW Principal Freya Schirmacher. “Helping one person with a math question may seem like a small thing, but to see the combined effect of everyone's actions helped us all realize the huge imact of everyone's combined acts of kindness. It was great to see so many students share what they do on a daily basis and then be inspired to look for more ways to positively contribute to their home or school communities.”
Several local businesses and District partners contributed to ensure smooth sailing for the campaign. “We had an awesome business, Boba Tonka Bubble Tea, that donated gift cards and a prize experience,” said Heather Burnett, MMW parent and PTO president. “[The owner] routinely gives back in his business to support organizations so it was such a natural fit to have him on board with the fundraiser. We also leveraged District partners Tonka Serves for volunteer ideas, and Tonka Pride, who donated prizes.”
Money raised will support enrichment initiatives planned by the MMW PTO, such as the 6th Grade visiting author, 8th Grade legacy and career days, community-building activities like class parties and field trips, supplies for student clubs, teacher classroom tools and more.
“Kindness is an MMW Core Value, and we know it takes many forms,” concluded Schirmacher. “[It] is free, inclusive and helps us focus on the positive in our day and puts the harder stuff in perspective. With or without a fundraiser, I think this mindful approach to how to live into kindness is a benefit to any individual or community!”