BROOMALL–For the past week, about 100 Russell Elementary School students and teachers have gone batty–batty with pumpkins that is.
In support of Charlotte McAuliffe and Charlotte's Lemonheads–a team consisting of family, friends and teachers in the district who have committed to run the 26-mile marathon in Walt Disney World for Alex's Lemonade Foundation in honor of Charlotte–kindergarten teacher Tracy Paine wanted to show her support in some way.
After browsing through Family Fun Magazine, Paine stumbled upon a fun, Halloween-themed craft idea, bat-o-lanterns, to implement in her classroom but wanted to the project to help benefit childhood cancer–in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and former student Charlotte.
Charlotte, 9, now a third grader, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 3. She is a brain cancer survivor and has been free of any treatments to date. She is also an ambassador of Alex's Lemonade Stand.
Getting the approval by Principal Dianne Smith and with the help of Kim Polonsky, the school's guidance counselor, the project soon unfolded into a project larger than they all had expected.
"I wanted to support Charlotte in some way," said Paine. "I told the class that we were going to do something for Alex's Lemonade on our own. I think we have close to 500 orders now. It's been exciting but a little overwhelming. It's been good though and the kids are excited."
The pumpkins have been painted black by her kindergarten classes and will be assembled with bat wings and eyes by fifth graders. Each bat-o-lantern is $2 and all the proceeds will be donated to Charlotte's Lemonheads. Their goal is $1,000 and appears that they will reach that goal soon enough.
According to Paine, the school community has been supportive of the project from day one and a colleague's husband had donated to the cause by buying all the materials and supplies to make the project happen.
"We're pretty much making 100 percent profit that will be donated to the team," shared Paine.
Painting with other students and in honor of her and her team, Charlotte said the overall experience was "pretty cool" and the project had indeed made her feel special.
Charlotte's mom, Sherry-Lee, also believed the project to be "awesome."
"It's awesome that they're so enthusiastic," shared Sherry-Lee. "It's really great getting them involved in service learning projects at such a young age. Charlotte is thrilled to get support."
The 'Bat-o-Lantern' project is part of the school's community outreach program.