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March 9, 2012

Middle school students working to raise funds for CANDLES Holocaust Museum

TERRE HAUTE — Honey Creek Middle School eighth-graders have been completing good deeds and community service to help raise money for the CANDLES Holocaust Museum.

One student dipped into his savings from mowing lawns during the summer, while another helped a neighbor clean out the garage. Other efforts included tutoring, assisting teachers and doing household chores.

The project, organized by eighth-grade English teacher Sherri Armstrong, is called Daisy Deeds for Dollars. Instead of students just asking family or friends for money, “we want the students to earn their donations and learn the meaning of community service,” she said.

Seventy-eight students from all three eighth-grade teams participated and raised $1,108; other eighth-grade teachers also helped support the effort. A daisy is the project icon because it represents innocence, Armstrong said.

During the Holocaust, millions of innocent people lost their lives because of systematic, state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany. Armstrong’s students just finished a unit on the Holocaust in which they studied the “Diary of Anne Frank.”

All Honey Creek eighth-grade teams will visit the CANDLES museum.

Armstrong, who visited the Auschwitz concentration camp with Eva Kor in 2005, teaches a unit on the Holocaust each spring, and every year, students do a fundraising project for the museum.

“We feel very fortunate to have this museum and Eva Kor in our community to help educate our students,” she said. Kor is a Holocaust survivor and the CANDLES museum founder.

While Armstrong tells her students about Kor’s experiences, she believes it’s important for them to hear her story firsthand. “They listen with such enthusiasm. They want to meet her,” Armstrong said.

They ask Kor about life in a concentration camp, what she had to do there each day and whether it was really as horrible as depicted in a movie that they’ve seen. “It’s something they can’t comprehend,” Armstrong said.

Eighth-grader Madison Marshall raised the most money, $115, and she wishes she would have raised even more. She cleaned windows, washed dishes, recycled cans, swept someone’s porch and read a book to a neighborhood child.

Marshall believes it’s important to support the CANDLES Museum to educate people about what happened during the Holocaust, which she described as “a horrible thing.”

Eighth-grader Lizzy Baker raised money for the museum because “we can’t forget. It was too big of a tragedy to forget.”

Some of the students “got a little imaginative” in their fundraising efforts, Armstrong said. Kishan Trivedi helped a teacher quiet down a noisy class — for a small donation. He also tutored and helped a teacher grade papers.

He believes it is students’ responsibility to donate time and money to help the museum. After studying the Holocaust and watching a movie about the “Diary of Anne Frank,” he said he found it “disturbing to watch what they [Nazis] did.” It made him realize the importance of “treating others the way you want to be treated.”

Student Logan Ames also got creative. He cleaned his grandmother’s dishes, and “I tied people’s shoes for $1.”

He says it’s important to raise money for the museum so Kor “can educate people on what happened.”

Armstrong and the students are making a scrapbook that includes pictures of participating students and paper daisies listing their fundraising efforts. The museum will keep the scrapbook.

Eighth-graders also raised about $500 by having basketball-in-the-gym several times throughout the school year. “This will give us at least $1,600 to donate to CANDLES,” Armstrong said.

Kor, the CANDLES founder, said she is amazed “at how Sherri can connect with these children and motivate them.”

The $1,600 is a significant amount of money that could be used to cover the museum’s mortgage for fourth months, Kor said. It also could cover utilities for three months.

Even more important, the students are learning about giving back and contributing to society. “It enriches their lives and the way they feel about themselves,” Kor said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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