Hart students raise over $15,000 for American Heart Association, eyeing teacher head shaving as prize.

March 19, 2021

Hart students raise over $15,000 for American Heart Association, eyeing teacher head shaving as prize.

Pirate News is a service of Hart Public Schools in cooperation with Oceana County Press.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — Spitler Elementary School students raised over $15,000 for the Kids Heart Challenge this year, tripling the amount they collected last year.

The student who raised the most money, which goes to the American Heart Association, was fourth grader Giovanni Barajas. Giovanni, who raised $1,139.38, got to shave physical education teacher Dean DeVries’ head Friday, March 19, at school. The head shaving was the fundraiser’s top prize.

“This year, we were 24th in the State of Michigan for the total amount raised,” said DeVries. “They raised money to help kids with weak hearts. We watched a video to show them a kid named Finn from Michigan who is having his 18th heart surgery at the age of 6. We’re just trying to bring an awareness to those kids who are a little bit less fortunate than us in terms of their heart health.”

The Hart kids’ big hearts came to the rescue by collecting $15,027.36 total, which triples last year’s amount of approximately $4,500, said DeVries. “It way exceeded my expectations.”

Forty-two students raised $150 each, and they get to have an extra recess with their principal Andrea Degen at the Hart Public Library playground.

Spitler students who were top money collectors earning $500 or more in the KHC fundraiser, pictured with physical education teacher Dean Devries left to right, include: Mason Mears, first grade; Jax Isley, first grade; Giovanni Barajas, fourth grade; Aspen Alvesteffer, first grade; Willow Saunders, first grade; and Miranda Dion, third grade. Not pictured is Owen Nordman, first grade.

The top class — Kelli Gross’ first grade class — raised the most money as a class with a $2,000 total. The students were rewarded with a pizza party.

“This year, I think those extra prizes got them excited about it.” The top earners also receive prizes from the American Heart Association, but the extra rewards from the school increased their motivation.

“I am so amazed by the community support — $15,000 is more than what we’ve made in our walkathon. I was so impressed this year.”

The school has been participating in the fundraiser for several years, and this year’s total was a record.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the students watched the head shaving event via video.

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