The sound of squeaking tennis shoes and laughter echoed through the gym at East Dale Elementary School on Thursday.
One hundred nine students in the first through sixth grade came in to jump rope, play with hula hoops and listen to music as a reward for donating money to the American Heart Association during the school’s 35th annual Jump Rope for Heart.
Sixth-graders helped the first-graders jump, fifth-graders helped the second-graders, and the third and fourth grades came in together.
This morning, organizer Debbie Spears will allow 15 kindergartners who donated jump.
“It’s kind of a reward for bringing in the donations,” said Spears, who is a physical education and health teacher at East Dale.
Together, the kids raised more than $2,300, which is above the school’s goal of $2,100.
Students could bring in as little as one penny, but most donated at least $5. The highest donation was $135.
The money goes toward research to help those with hearth health problems.
The children watched a video that explained what the American Heart Association does for children with sick hearts, Spears said.
“That’s how they know what they’re doing,” she said. “They’re helping someone, or a child, with a heart that needs some help.”
Students at East Dale love the event and want to participate, said Spears. They look forward to it.
“I’ve had several kids get into their piggy bank and give me all they had,” she said. “I’ve had others beg family members and neighbors and teachers. They love to donate, and they love to help others. East Dale is a great place.”
Many parents even came to the school Thursday to drop off donations.
Cameron Kropp, a fourth-grader, said the event gave his heart a warm, fuzzy feeling.
“It makes me feel really good, and I’m helping people,” he said. “I paid 35 bucks, and all the money will be going to people who have heart disease.”
Spears estimates there would have been more donations had there not been as many snow days. The event was originally planned for Feb. 13, but it was postponed after weather caused students to miss so many instructional days.
Information was not given to students when Spears wanted it to be because of the time off, but she is pleased with the outcome.
“They did a great job in a short amount of time,” she said.
This year marks Spears’ third time organizing the event, and she enjoys helping the children raise money. The students are very proud of their achievements, she said.
“I feel it’s a very important thing. I’ve had family members with heart problems, and I know it’s a good cause. It means a lot to me just because it’s needed,” she said. “The kids are doing a great job doing it, and I’m just happy to help.”
Teaching children to help others is important, Spears said, and the American Heart Association is an organization that can help many in the community.
“There are kids here that have heart problems. There are kids in every community that have heart problems. Just the fact that it can touch every family, and many families’ heart problem is passed from generation to generation,” she said. “I think it’s very important that the kids know that it could be their family member as well as their classmate. It’s a community, and we all have to take care of each other.”
Each year, the American Heart Association gives East Dale a flag for students to sign. The flag is then hung above the doorway in the gym until next year’s Jump Rope for Heart.
“It was really fun hula hooping and jump roping and stuff,” Kropp said.
Email Chelsi Baker at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.