Natomas Cares: Regency Park School’s Quarters Add Up

Final day of the quarter drive,from left to right, Isabella Zaragoza, Celina Nguyen, Isabel Gatdula.

Final day of the quarter drive, from left to right, Isabella Zaragoza, Celina Nguyen, Isabel Gatdula.

BY EMILY MIBACH, INTERN
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

After Regency Park Elementary School teacher Becki Fleischer participated in a program to build homes for families in Mexico, she wanted to give back to her own community.

“We talked about how to do this at the elementary level, with an enrichment opportunity, both meaningful and educational,” said Julie Marion, Fleischer’s teaching partner.

Together, Fleisher and Marion decided to hold a shoe drive at the Natomas school, picking non-profit Soles4Souls Inc. as the beneficiary.

Day one.

Day one.

When Marion talked about the shoe drive with 5th grader Celina Nguyen, the duo decided a quarter drive would be better to raise money instead of collecting new and used shoes.

“Getting old, used shoes with this many kids at a school might be difficult to manage, and this way the students involved in the enrichment experience would be able to shop for the shoes with the earned money,” Marion said.

With little guidance, Marion said, Nguyen created fliers, organized students into groups, created a class winner incentive, and wrote a script for students to use to promote the quarter drive. Nguyen recruited student Maricela Gutierrez to help out.

In all, 27 4th and 5th graders led the quarter drive, giving up their free time to work on the project.

“The students involved volunteered to participate because they wanted to help others in need,” said Marion of the weeklong drive held in May 2013. “They wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Marion said students hoped to fill a large glass jar with quarters.

“Day one, it filled a lot,” she said. “But the students weren’t sure we would reach our goal.”

When the drive ended, more than 3,200 quarters – $800 worth – had been donated.

“I was speechless,” said Marion.

Eight students and Marion went to Payless Shoe Source in Natomas where each student picked out two pairs of brand-new shoes to buy with money raised during the quarter drive. The shoes and unspent money were donated to Soles4Souls Inc., a global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting the impact of poverty by distributing shoes and clothing in the United States and overseas.

“These are the teachable moments in life,” Marion said. “This is what makes teaching my life. A little effort on my part can make a lifetime impression on our future.”

After their trip to the shoe store:(from left to right) Talia Jones, Alina Ali, Melodee Marzan, Mrs. Marion, Celina Nguyen, Isabella Zaragoza, Michael Arcangel, and. Derrick Balderas. Not pictured: Lily Vinayak.

After their trip to the shoe store:(from left to right) Talia Jones, Alina Ali, Melodee Marzan, teacher Julie Marion, Celina Nguyen, Isabella Zaragoza, Michael Arcangel, and. Derrick Balderas. Not pictured: Lily Vinayak.