State College

Children lead effort on Nepal earthquake relief

Joel Torbic, left, and Jordan Lefkowitz count money in the classroom. Joel started the effort to raise money, which spread from his class to the entire school.
Joel Torbic, left, and Jordan Lefkowitz count money in the classroom. Joel started the effort to raise money, which spread from his class to the entire school. CDT photo

The act of philanthropy reached beyond Maria Hayes’ third-grade class at Corl Street Elementary School.

When third-grader Joel Torbic walked into class a couple of weeks ago with an idea to raise money for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, the fundraising campaign went viral.

But teachers at the school never thought the effort would quite get the response it did.

Last week, and in just four days, students raised $860.81 by collecting change from students in every class.

Each day was designated for bringing in a different coin, starting with the penny on Tuesday, and ending with the quarter on Friday.

Hayes said some students also donated several dollars daily.

“It’s been incredible,” Hayes said. “One student had an idea and we ran with it. And the thing is, a big word we’ve been talking about in class is ‘philanthropy.’ When they ask what it is, I can tell them it’s the stuff they’re doing.”

The idea was spearheaded by Joel, 9, who plays for the State College Celtics Soccer Club with a teammate from Nepal.

Joel said when he heard there was a severe earthquake centered near Mount Everest, he partnered with his teammate to plan a soccer-themed fundraiser to help raise money for relief efforts.

The event will be held Thursday at State College Alliance Church with a soccer game and bake sale.

“I said if we can do it there then I can bring it to my classroom,” Joel said.

Joel reached out to Hayes, who gave him the OK to debrief with classmates and spread the word with a presentation for each class about the project.

“I feel really good about bringing it to my school because I normally would help one of my family members … and now I’m helping a whole country,” Joel said.

Each class collected cash and coins in buckets in their classroom, and on Friday, the final count was totaled.

And even when one class ended the day with four dimes, Hayes reminded them it was 40 cents more than they had before.

“It’s a learning experience by helping to teach them to look at what was raised, not just the amount,” Hayes said. “I’m so proud of them and their excitement in doing this. It was their persistence that this was successful and that we were able to incorporate (class) curriculum into the fundraiser.”

Proceeds will go toward the American Red Cross’ Nepal earthquake relief fund.

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