Immanuel Lutheran sixth-graders enjoy sweet success

On the first Wednesday of this month, four Immanuel Lutheran School students placed 32 tubs of cotton candy on tables in the cafeteria before school. In a matter of minutes, they were all sold.

“Then we had to take names because we sold so many,” sixth-grader Conner Sims said.

“We thought, ‘Wow! We need some more,'” fellow sixth-grader Kailene Cockerham said.

The next Wednesday, they put out 96 tubs and once again sold out. The third Wednesday, all 80 tubs placed on the cafeteria tables were sold. Then this past week, for the final time, they again sold 96.

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Conner, Kailene and the other two sixth-graders organizing the project, Shelby Self and Audrey Wiggam, were pleasantly surprised with the success of the fundraiser. Proceeds will benefit the Immanuel Cancer Fighters Relay for Life team, which raises money for the American Cancer Society’s annual event in the spring.

“We thought maybe a couple of people would buy it by seeing it,” Conner said.

“I just thought it was really amazing because some people just donated money to it. They didn’t even buy cotton candy,” Shelby said. “It really surprised me.”

Immanuel Cancer Fighters started four years ago by a former teacher at the Seymour school and consists of students in Grades 6 through 8. When that teacher left the school a couple of years ago, social studies teacher Charles Smith took over as captain. The team now has about 60 students involved.

“My dad passed away from cancer; and the other captain who used to teach here, his mom had died from cancer,” Smith said. “He had been involved with Relay before, so then I started as a co-captain, and then I took over as captain when he left.”

Smith said he has students brainstorm in class to come up with fundraising ideas, and it’s up to them to volunteer to help coordinate activities and raise money.

“It’s kind of a leadership thing,” Smith said. “Some help with all of them. Some help with some of them. They can pick and choose which fundraising stuff they want to help with.”

Conner came up with the most recent fundraiser after he saw packages of pink and blue cotton candy at a local store. Since he didn’t know how the fundraiser would go, he decided to start small and only bought 32.

“We sold them for $1 per tub,” he said. “It costs 70 cents a tub, so we’re making 30 cents on each one. If we sell all of that, we’ll make about $300.”

Kailene said the fundraiser has been popular because kids like cotton candy, and it’s the one day they can eat it during class.

Conner said people have donated money, too.

“We actually have encouraged people, once they eat all of the cotton candy out of the tub, to put loose change and maybe a few dollars in it and bring it back,” he said.

The team also sells items at volleyball and basketball games at the school and in January and February will sell hot chocolate before school. Later on, they will visit with elementary students and share what they are doing and encourage them to get involved.

Smith said the team raised more than $2,600 last year, and this year’s goal is to top $3,000.

While the students like working together on the fundraisers, they realize it’s for a good cause because cancer touches most people in some way.

Conner said his grandmother had cancer, while Kailene said the mother of one of their classmates had breast cancer and now has cervical cancer.

“We’re thinking every little bit helps to save someone,” Conner said of the importance of the fundraisers.

“We just want to do anything to help them so they don’t lose their lives,” Kailene said.

Shelby said she is inspired to help with the fundraisers because she lost her grandfather to cancer.

“I think it’s important because cancer is really something that needs to be dealt with these days because it’s a life-taking experience for some of these people in the world today, and it shouldn’t have to be,” she said.

“I decided to do it because I really wanted to show some people to have some belief in themselves,” she said. “I just like seeing people smile and having a good time and teaching them to believe that there are changes in the world that can happen.”

Smith said he is proud of the students’ efforts.

“I hope it continues to grow,” he said. “It has just allowed the students who are interested and want to help out to kind of show their Christian love to each other, too.”