Girls, 8 and 7, hold fundraiser for classmate and family after fire
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | April 06,2013
Len Emery Photo
Maya Owens, left, and MacKenzie Bushey came up with the idea for a bake sale to benefit a friend’s family who lost their home in a fire. The large jar contains donations from students and teachers at the Elm Hill School.
When a fire last month destroyed the home of one of their classmates, Maya Owens and MacKenzie Bushey got busy.
The two second-graders from Springfield decided to hold a bake sale this morning at Shaw’s at the Springfield Plaza to raise money for their classmate’s family.
Maya, 8, and MacKenzie, 7, wanted to do so something to help classmate 7-year-old Kiara Putnam and her family, which has a total of five children.
“We were playing out in front of the school and that’s when we decided to hold a bake sale,” the girls said Friday afternoon at Springfield’s Elm Hill School.
Both Maya and MacKenzie had been in kindergarten with Kiara. Maya and Kiara are both in teacher Terry Carter’s second-grade class. The bonds of childhood are strong.
The girls’ bake sale — with generous help from their mothers, Becky Bushey and Lindsay Owens — is one of many things the Springfield school community is doing to help the Putnam family.
The girls came up with their idea last Thursday after school, and they had a meeting Friday at school to make their plans.
The girls sent out a letter to the families of all their classmates at Elm Hill and Union Street schools, where two of Kiara’s older brothers attend, asking for donated baked goods, volunteers and customers.
About a dozen students have volunteered to help sell the baked goods, and Owens and Bushey said people came forward with food donations.
“We’re making brownies tonight and muffins,” Maya said Friday.
MacKenzie said that she and her mom were making mint brownies and cinnamon buns.
The two girls made posters to advertise the bake sale, and they’ve already started baking with their moms.
One popular item among both children and adults will be Puppy Chow, a concoction of Chex cereal coated in chocolate and peanut butter, then shaken in powdered sugar.
“We also call it Monkey Munch,” said Lindsay Owens.”We’ll have bags of it.”
The girls and their mothers will be at Springfield Plaza at 9:30 a.m. today to set up their tables, and will start accepting donations at 9:45 a.m. The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Carter said the school is doing a number of things to raise money.
Students are doing chores or errands for teachers or Principal Dana Jacobson-Goodhue, donating the money to the Putnam family fund. Students are also donating their spare change, Carter said. Her class now has a large jar to collect donations and they’ve raised more than $70.
Children have donated clothes and toys to Kiara, said Owens and Bushey.
The Putnam family is currently living in a motel in Ascutney, and looking for a new home in their hometown of Springfield, said Katie Putnam, Kiara’s mother.
The Putnams have five children, all under the age of 10, with four in Springfield schools. The children are still attending their Springfield schools, with the school district arranging transportation.
Jacobson-Goodhue said it was important to keep the children in their class to maintain a sense of normalcy as their family copes with the upheaval of losing their home and possessions. Katie and Nick Putnam, who both grew up in Springfield, are coping in a motel room. Both Putnams work, but they don’t have a car.
“Right now, the biggest thing we need is a home,” said Katie Putnam, who said the family also needed clothes and would need furniture once they found a new apartment.
Turning Point in Springfield is a drop-off point for donations, such as clothing and household items. Turning Point won’t accept cash, she said.
“The schools have been helping us, and friends, with rides and clothes and stuff, ” said Nick Putnam.
Katie Putnam said Jan Rounds, a guidance counselor at Union Street School, has been coordinating donations or offers of help for the young family.
Katie Putnam said some of her neighbors in the burned-out building had found housing in Bellows Falls, and others in Springfield.
The Putnams’ apartment was one of five destroyed in the March 25 fire on Valley Street. A total of 17 people were left homeless. Everyone escaped the apartment house fire safely.
The cause of the fire is still undetermined.
Maya and MacKenzie had set a goal of raising $200 for their classmate and their family, and their mothers said they will put the money into a cash card, probably at Wal-Mart, where the family can get everything they need.