Each year at The Children’s School of Oak Park, fourth and fifth-grade students plan and execute the “Hootenanny,” a large fundraiser featuring games, food, entertainment and more. This year’s 2017 Hootenanny drew more than 300 people and raised more than $3000 for the Westside Health Authority.
The students themselves plan, promote and manage every aspect of the Hootenanny fundraiser. They start by identifying a problem or need that they are concerned about. This year, the children were concerned about community healthcare, worried that kids in their community or in nearby neighborhoods might not have access to a doctor. They worked with Polly Smith, our school librarian, to identify local agencies that might offer doctor visits to kids in need.
Once the students agreed on the need, they learned in the classroom how to evaluate organizations and their websites to make sure a non-profit was legitimate and delivered the services it promised. The students considered several non-profits related to healthcare. They ultimately chose the Westside Health Authority as their beneficiary after a school field trip to the WHA where they saw first-hand the programs and facilities the WHA offers.
The students learned how to plan and execute a successful fundraising event from start to finish. For the 2017 Hootenanny, the students made promotional posters and buttons. They planned crafts, goods and food to sell, as well as which carnival games, entertainment and activities would round out the evening’s schedule of events. Students set up schedules to take turns working at each table and game throughout the evening. They practiced how to greet customers and cashier skills like making correct change when selling their items.
“I’m proud of our students and how much initiative and hard work they put into this project in taking it from idea, to plan, to execution,” says Cathy Schroeder, fourth-grade teacher at The Children’s School.
“Westside Health Authority would like to thank The Children’s School’s fourth and fifth-grade class for their gift provided through the Hootenanny fundraiser. Their thoughtful gift will go towards helping children and teens on the west side of Chicago improve their health and wellness by providing clean clothing, undergarments, and toiletry items to those in need,” says Tina Cooper, director of youth programs at Westside Health Authority.
“The Hootenanny is a great party for having fun and donating to organizations that help the world,” says Abby, a fourth-grader who worked on the Hootenanny project.