Franklin Academy students raise nearly $5K for Hurricane Ian relief

Franklin Academy students raise nearly $5K for Hurricane Ian relief

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A group of students at the Franklin Academy in Palm Beach Gardens are proving that age has no limit on what you can do.

They raised $4,581 to help families impacted by Hurricane Ian on the west coast of Florida.

“We pretty much talk about how we can help the community and how we can make an impact,” said Ethan Mott, 8th International Baccalaureate Ambassador degree.

At the Franklin Academy, the leadership program of 25 students known as International Baccalaureate Ambassadors, or IB Ambassadors, are in charge of creating school-wide service initiatives.

“I definitely feel that before being an IB Ambassador I didn’t really think much of going out of my way to help other people or do something that was maybe out of the way for me, and it would impact something else but now that I am an IB Ambassador I’ve definitely done that more,” said Cecilia Renzulli, 8th IB Ambassador grade. “We’re kind of like the leaders and we have to set a good example for everyone.”

The IB Ambassadors had recently been elected and were planning their service project when Hurricane Ian impacted Florida’s west coast.

That’s when an idea was born to create a “dress down” day, where students who donate $5 can go to school in casual clothes instead of a uniform that will be collected and used for aid.

Kindergarten through 8th grade students participated and donated for the cause. Some families sponsored entire classrooms to dress down, raising $4,851.

“I wore jeans and a shirt,” said Breanna Hanza, year 8th IB Ambassador grade. “We were thinking we would raise $2,000 at least but we raised more than that.”

“It was amazing to hear that much is what we could do to help people,” said 8th grade IB Ambassador Anisa Maharaj. “It’s a phenomenal feeling because you’re helping them and at the same time other people are feeling happy with dress down day or because they’re helping people.”

The IB Ambassadors did their research and decided the money will go towards the nonprofit organization Convoy of Hope.

They have been going through the southwest region and on the ground in the Fort Myers area since last Friday, delivering relief to 11 communities, including Cape Coral, Pine Island Center, Bokeelia, Lehigh Acres, Port Charlotte, Bradenton, Estero, Venice, Naples , and North Fort Myers.

So far, Convoy of Hope reports distributing more than 350,000 pounds of relief supplies, including food, water, ice, hygiene kits, baby supplies, tarps and more and has served more than 20,000 people.

“I feel like it’s changed me but it’s also changed the people that are around this amazing group of people because they influence each other and everybody influences people outside IB ambassador which just creates a big community where everybody wants to help out,” said Mott.

This is all part of the school’s initiative to focus on character development for students just as much as academics.

All students are required to conduct one service project each quarter.

“It focuses on the whole child. We don’t just focus on the academics, while it is rigorous, we focus more on character building and what that means and what their role in the world is and how they can take what they learn in the classroom and use it to make a difference in the community,” said Leah Hanza, the IB Coordinator, PYP and MYP for the Franklin Academy Charter School.

Hanza said the students will be presenting Convoy of Hope with a check early next week, which will be a total of $5,000. In addition to the $4,581 raised by the student initiative, $200 was donated by two girls and Hanza said she will make up the difference to bring the total to $5,000.

“Getting them to think about other people and put other people first and really focus on the concept of empathy and what looks like kind of creates a movement,” said Hanza. “What ends up happening is these students that really struggle with um being selfish it had its they really kind of evolved and it’s really cool to watch how they want to serve others and they do things without being asked and the respect just comes naturally and so it’s beautiful to see something that we haven’t seen in years past.”

Hanza says because Convoy of Hope is located in the Midwest, they will not be able to personally present the check but will do so via Zoom.

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