Ranney School second-graders learn important lessons fundraising for diabetes foundation
By Hannah Eckstein
TINTON FALLS – For an ordinary second-grader, a button maker would seem like a fun arts and crafts project. But Salvatore Principato is no ordinary second-grader.
When this innovative 7-year-old Ranney School student decided he wanted to combine his passion for creating imaginary businesses with his desire to help others, he did just that.
Motivated by suggestions from his teacher, Jennifer McDermott, Salvatore brought his make believe businesses to life, by creating and selling buttons to raise money for a good cause. Salvatore began by naming his “business” “Kids Who Care,” and quickly expanded his project to his classroom, seeking the help of his classmates.
Over a period of two months, Salvatore and his classmates created and sold more than 600 buttons, raising an incredible $2,700 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In addition to fundraising, these extraordinary second-graders helped spread the message of diabetes awareness, a message that takes on a personal meaning in Salvatore’s class, in which two students are directly affected by juvenile diabetes
The idea to design and sell buttons for diabetes came to Salvatore back in November on a routine trip to the nurse’s office. While there he saw classmate, Lindsey Berliner, getting her insulin levels checked. Salvatore soon learned that Lindsey and another classmate’s younger brother have from diabetes. Seeing firsthand how the disease affected his friends, Salvatore decided to help with the fight against diabetes.
“When I learned that Lindsey and Kieran both had diabetes, and had to go to the nurse each day, I knew I wanted to help them,” Salvatore said. With this new inspiration, this young entrepreneur began to use a button maker he received for Christmas to design and sell buttons for diabetes research. Soon, Salvatore brought the project to his classroom, asking his classmates to help design buttons.
Two button makers and 600 buttons later, the class was ready to sell all of their hard work to those at the school. The class sold their buttons May 21 during school lunches, almost completely selling out.
The success and benefits of the fundraiser however, went far beyond the button sale, extending to the classroom environment and the campaign for diabetes awareness.
“The project itself was interdisciplinary,” said teacher Jennifer McDermott, commenting on class time dedicated to the fundraiser. “The students used indoor recess time to create button designs on the computer.”
The creativity in the classroom continued when the students developed, directed and starred in their own promotional video for the fundraiser. In addition, the business aspects of the fundraiser served as real life examples for the students’ math lessons.
The project taught the class much more than just a simple lesson in creativity and math. “We learned about diabetes, and how it affects our classmates,” Salvatore said. “It made us want to do more to help out our friends.”
The lessons were invaluable to Lindsey and the Berliner family. Lindsey, a second-grader at Ranney, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes almost two years ago. “It’s incredible to see how much her classmates care, and to see them want to learn more about diabetes,” Lindsey’s mother Jackie Berliner said.
Today, Lindsey makes daily trips to the nurse’s office and wears a small insulin pump and a glucose monitor.
“I was really excited about the button sale!” Lindsey said. “It lets me help other kids with diabetes, and teach my friends about diabetes as well. When I’m older I want to help out more with diabetes research.”
For all of their hard work, the students were rewarded with a pizza party during which they presented their hard-earned money to Nancy Levine, outreach coordinator at the JDRF. Levine thanked the students, noting that they were not only funding diabetes research, but also helping to share the mission of the JDRF by spreading awareness about juvenile diabetes.
“You all did such a fabulous job, I would love to make you all spokespersons for the JDRF foundation.” Nancy said as she accepted the $2,700 check.
“It is really incredible to see children at this age getting involved and learning about diabetes research. This is exactly what we would like to promote, kids helping each other, both inside and outside the classroom,” Levine said.
With completion of the button sale, Salvatore is looking forward to new Kids Who Care ventures. “I want to continue to help other kids through new businesses,” he said.
Salvatore’s passion for humanitarian entrepreneurship appears to be infectious. It has inspired his classmates to start their own fundraisers. “My business partners (classmates) all want to start their own projects to help out others as well,” he said.
Some of Salvatore’s classmates will be participating on a team organized by the Berliner family during an October Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk. Additional information about the team or how to donate is available by emailing Jackie Berliner at email@example.com.