San Jose Elementary School Students Raise Thousands To Support Classmates, Community Hit By Flooding - NBC Bay Area
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San Jose Elementary School Students Raise Thousands To Support Classmates, Community Hit By Flooding

In order to do their part in the school-wide fundraiser, all Jessica Friedman's fourth-graders had to raise was $200. The went above, and way beyond. (Published Tuesday, April 4, 2017)

Estimating. It's one of the math skills Jessica Friedman expects her fourth-grade students at San Jose's Hacienda Elementary to master by the time they leave her classroom.

This past month, however, it's seems Friedman is the one who needed brushing up on the topic because she clearly under-estimated her students.

"The surprised me," Friedman said, "in the best possible way."

The whole episode began with two students in particular: Roma Smith and Jenna Kang. Both girls live near Coyote Creek and both their homes were damaged by the flooding that occurred there in February.

"Right now, I'm living at my Grandma and Grandpa's house," Smith explained.

At Frieman's suggestion, both of the girls made a presentation about the flood to the school's student council. They share stories and pictures of their experience and suggested a flood fundraiser to help their community.

"We did it for our neighbors," Kang said, "because they needed a lot of help."

The council agreed and a school-wide goal was set: $5,000.

"I remember when they said 5,000, I wanted them to pick something much more achievable," Friedman said.

Still, when spread out among all the school's grades and classes, Friedman's students would only have to raise a little more than $200 to do their part.

"We thought, oh my God, if we raise that much we're going to be awesome," Smith recalled. "Now, I don't know what happened."

What happened is Smith and Kang's classmates continued to raise more and more money. The single sheet of paper on which they had drawn a thermometer to measure their success has been added on to six more times.

Some students raided their savings accounts, others gave their Tooth Fairy money, and many gave more than one time, By the end of March, Friedman's class had raised more than $2,000, close to half of the entire schools' goal.

Smith and Kang's classmates admit, they started the fundraiser looking to help their friends but the more and more they learned about the scope of the disaster, the more they wanted to help everyone affected.

"They see neighbors in need, they see classmates in need, they just want to be a part of the solution," Friedman said.