Westwood School recently blew away their fundraising goal by raising more than $2,600 for the Family Support Council, wrapping the week with their annual bubble gum blowing competition.
Michelle Huch, English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at Westwood and event committee chair, said Westwood was thrilled to support the mission of the Family Support Council once again.
“I’ve worked here for 15 years, and we’ve done this for 15 years,” Huch said. “It is a campaign that the Family Support Council has always asked Dalton Public Schools, Whitfield County Schools and Murray County Schools to participate.”
The Family Support Council works to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting and building strong, nurturing families.
In a month-long campaign, the Family Support Council charged students, educators and local businesses to be “Heroes Against Child Abuse.”
“We would ask kids to bring in money for the Family Support Council, but we wanted to do something fun,” Huch said. “Carol Percy, a retired educator, started bubble gum day years ago.”
At the end of the week, each student received a piece of bubble gum, and each class held a bubble blowing contest. The class winners competed among their grade level before the entire school watched the grade representatives compete.
Huch said students and staff were happy to find creative ways to raise money. One teacher offered to match each student’s donation on the last day of fundraising, making her class the one to bring in the most money.
Another teacher allowed students to “buy” a piece of gum with spare change to begin training for the bubble blowing competition weeks in advance. The money was donated to the cause.
“Most years, we collect $700 to $800,” Huch said. “I always hope to get above $1,000. This year, we raised around $2,650. It shocked us that we had doubled what we really wanted to get. We were so excited about that.”
With each donation, students were reminded of the impact they were making in the lives of their community members through the Family Support Council.
“It’s a great organization, and it impacts the kids here at Westwood,” Huch said.
The Family Support Council visits schools, teaching students to recognize the signs of childhood abuse.
“It’s important for kids to be able to tell when things might be ‘off,’” Huch said. “We tell them, ‘If you see something, say something.’ I think that is important to instill in them at an early age.”
Huch said the fundraiser provided a great opportunity for students and families to selflessly rally around a cause. Students were seen bringing in change, donating their personal savings and giving up their ice cream money to add to the total.
“They saw the need, and they wanted to give,” Huch said. “They saw that this would help our community, and I just love that these kids have the biggest hearts. They know they are here to help others and not just themselves.”
Huch praises Westwood’s students for practicing “service above self,” a motto they encourage students to remember inside and outside the classroom.
Huch added she is excited to see Westwood top that goal next year.
“I love that we do it every year,” Huch said. “I’m already trying to think of some more creative ways to bring in more money next year. I love who we do it for — a local organization that is involved in the schools and helps our families.”