James Hunt’s Vandora Springs fifth-grade Art Club is raising money for Relay for Life by painting chairs to be auctioned off in April.
It’s called the “Chairs of Hope” project. Hunt has had his students take on the effort for years.
Each year, his fifth-graders paint about 40 chairs for the auction. Every chair has a bid sheet that starts at $25, and goes up in increments of $5. All the proceeds go to Relay for Life. Garner has consistently been the municipality that raises the most money in Wake County, and Hunt’s class has been one of the reasons for that.
The goal for his class is to raise $3,000 a year.
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Three years ago, the art club raised more than $5,000. Some years are a little less and some are a little more, Hunt said.
This year, businesses can also donate $100 for a chair and paint it to reflect their business. At the auction, people will vote on the best chair.
The auction will be in April, the day before the Relay for Life walk at Lake Benson Park.
This is just one of the projects Hunt’s art clubs have worked on to give back to the community.
Hunt’s fourth-grade Art Club makes bowls in the fall to raise awareness for hunger in the community. They usually collect 2,000 food items a year in exchange for the bowls they make.
Hunt said he wanted to teach his students how to give back to their communities.
“Some of these kids’ families have been touched by cancer,” Hunt said. “It’s just another way of making them realize that using their art skills is just another way that I can give back something. I can help a cause. I can help Relay (for Life) raise some money for research and helping families. It’s just that compassion and comittment for a cause and knowing they are not too young to do that.”
He said this lesson carries on through his student’s lives.
In few people is that more evident than Katherine Shearin, 14, an eighth-grade student at East Garner Middle School. Each year she comes back to help paint chairs for the cause. This year, she is doing it for a class project this year, too.
“I continue to come back because I knew that if I kept coming back there would be a greater reason to do it, and I would be able to spread it to more people,” Katherine said.
She will present her project to a board of teachers at her school in hopes that it will raise awareness for cancer research and will inspire more people to help others.
The fifth graders
Madyson Bell, 10, said it makes her feel good to help other people and use her artistic talents. Madyson said her great-grandmother just found out she has cancer.
“It makes me feel really good just to know (we) are (raising) money to help them,” Madyson said. “It’s important because we are all healthy and don’t have any diseases or things like that and we are working to help them be like us.”
Alivia Johnson, 10, said the same.
“I like that you get to use your imagination and donate money to charity,” she said.
Emersen Gooch, 10, said she has never had anyone in her family affected by cancer, but she likes to help people. She said she is most sympathetic to children who have cancer and don’t have the same opportunities she has.
Emersen said when you’re a kid you don’t have to take care of anyone, and you can have fun.
“If you have cancer you can’t do that much stuff, and sometimes people make fun of you, and that’s not good,” Emersen said. “That’s not nice either.”
She said she thinks people should be aware of the cause.
“If you weren’t aware of it, then a lot of people would die,” Emersen said. “It could be a friend.”
As Leslie Alvarez painted her chair a light blue color, she pondered over what she hoped to accomplish from the project. She said it’s not about raising more money than your other classmates.
“I hope we raise enough money for people in need,” Leslie said.