When a third grade teacher found a jar of money in her classroom, she never imagined what it would be for.
Keri Cialdella, a third grade teacher at Greenbriar Elementary School in Chicago Heights, said she was on a mission to clean up clutter in her classroom when she discovered the jar hidden inside a desk drawer.
“I asked the students, you know, ‘Who’s money is this?’” she told NBC Chicago. “They said ‘Well it’s none of our money Mrs. Cialdella, it’s money for the kids with cancer.’”
The kids told Cialdella they had been making key chain decorations and selling them for 50 cents apiece.
“Well, they have a bad disease,” she third grader Karla Ruiz. “I want them to go home, have a family, go to school and learn.”
The jar had raised about $17 at the time Cialdella found it, but after news of the project spread, the idea grew.
“As we went on, more kids in my classroom started to learn how to make them, until it went to the other third grade room and they learned how to make them,” said student Caleb Avila.
The school’s principal decided to get the entire school involved, and the students have since raised more than $500.
In addition to the students’ key chains, school officials organized a silent auction, with art items donated by staff members and community residents, to help the kids raise even more money.
The auction, which was held in May, raised $4,069.
Officials said more than 200 supporters packed the school’s gym and hallways to help raise funds.
The money raised at the auction will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“They’re so young, yet they took this on themselves,” said Cialdella. “They started this, it wasn’t me. I’m just giving them the tools and the manpower to do so.”