Fox Point - When third-grader Sophie Schnoll saw images of ravaged Japanese communities on the news, she knew she had to do something.
Sophie, a Stormonth Elementary School student, had a leading role in deciding how the school was going to raise funds and help people in need. The decision: create origami cranes.
The paper decorations, which come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, have a symbolic meaning that was fitting for a country in desperate need.
"When you make a thousand cranes, they are a sign of hope," Sophie said.
Third- and fourth-grade students at Stormonth set out to make a thousand cranes and pledge $1 for each paper creation. The fundraiser, which wrapped recently, exceeded the expectations of students and faculty.
When all was said and done, Stormonth students raised $1,586, and proceeds went to the American Red Cross.
Student participants had several teachable moments throughout the fundraising exercise. Some students gave up recess to make the paper creations, while others took the supplies home. Sophie said learning how to make the cranes initially was a challenging task.
Life lessons also came into vivid focus for some participants.
"It's not always about us," fourth-grader Zack Dickman said. "You can try to do something good for people who don't have what you have."
Karen Grimm-Nielsen, a fourth-grade teacher, said she was pleased by the camaraderie the students demonstrated throughout the project.
"They were stringing (the cranes) together, and there was definitely teamwork," Grimm-Nielsen said. "The cooperation they showed toward one another was tremendous."
The cranes are on display in the Stormonth lobby, but will be transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next month. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is holding a benefit concert, and the students' cranes will serve as decorative reminder of what the event is about.
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