Breckenridge first graders hold benefit for Congo |

Breckenridge first graders hold benefit for Congo

by Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Kathryn Corazzelli

They may be only six or seven years old, but the first-grade students in Evie Bromiley and Amy Sward’s Breckenridge Elementary classrooms understand that certain areas of the world need other people’s help. So on Jan. 20, the children organized a full-service restaurant inside of their classroom to benefit children – and silverback gorillas – in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Teachers Bromiley and Sward said the idea for the benefit came out of a lesson about wants and needs. Parent Jenny Murphy – who has been doing humanitarian work for nonprofits that benefit the Congo – came to the classroom and gave a presentation about the area.

“The children knew needs were different for different people in different areas of the world,” Bromiley said. “We asked the children what they wanted to do, since needs were not being met in Congo.”

Bromiley and Sward said the kids brainstormed ideas – including one that would hav involved sending a plane over the Congo to drop food off – before deciding on the more feasible plan of setting up a restaurant inside their classroom. The children also set up a donation box and sold baked goods and artwork.

Bromiley said the children learned what each restaurant position entailed – like server, host and chef – and practiced before the big day. They advertised by hanging signs in school and making announcements over the loudspeaker. On the day of the fundraiser, the children served patrons drinks, salad, entree and dessert while a few played instruments brought in from home. All of the food was donated by parents.

“The main part about it was that it was completely kid-driven,” Bromiley said. “The kids waited tables, the kids were the hosts and hostesses. They collected money for the bake sale. They created the artwork and sold it themselves.”

“It was packed,” Sward said. “I was amazed.”

The children raised $760. Sward said when the announcement of the amount was made over the loudspeaker, she could hear the children cheering from the office.

“They were so ecstatic,” she said. “It was awesome.”

The children had to decide how to divide the money. $500 will go towards sending five children to school for two years – which includes a daily meal – and $260 will help the gorillas.

Parent Dick Carleton – himself a restaurateur – said he liked that Murphy introduced the children to “helping people halfway around the world.” He said that teachers Bromiley and Sward did a wonderful job in helping the kids organize and run the event.

“It was very fun watching them run a restaurant,” Carleton said. “They were really proud.”

Carleton’s daughter Amelia acted as a hostess, and his son Zach was a chef.

“I feel good about it,” Amelia said.

Murphy’s daughter Ella was a waitress, and said she’s happy about raising money for the Congo.

“I’m glad we could send five people to school instead of zero,” she said.

Student Mack Dorf, who sold goods at the bake sale part of the event, said he liked it but it was a little hard.

“There were a lot of people,” he said.

Murphy said the event was “incredibly inspirational.”

“I think they felt really empowered,” she said.

Murphy said the kids will become pen pals with the five children they send to school, and will receive information about how their money helped the gorillas. The money is going through two organizations that Murphy is involved with: Strong Roots and Kids 4 Congo’s Kids.

Both Sward and Bromiley said they couldn’t have held the event without the parents who cooked, donated and attended the event.

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