Ashton 2nd-grader launches schoolwide bracelet campaign for sick children

Ashton 2nd-grader launches schoolwide bracelet campaign for sick children

Maggie McDonald, left, a 2nd-grade student at Ashton Elementary School in Cumberland, launched a student-driven donation campaign for The Ronald McDonald House Providence. Students teamed up during recess to make more than 200 elastic loom bracelets to be donated to children and their families at the facility. Maddie Estes, right, a 5th-grader and Student Council president, presented McDonald’s plan to students in 4th- and 5th-grade classes at the school. (Breeze photo by Brittany Ballantyne)
8-year-old uses bracelet-making skills to bring Ronald McDonald House some cheer

CUMBERLAND – Eight-year-old Maggie McDonald, a 2nd-grade student at Ashton Elementary School, is a loom bracelet-making champion. She’s been creating jewelry with elastic bands since she was a toddler, and though is takes her “about five seconds” to make a bracelet, looking around at all her materials, she felt she was still missing something.

Maggie visited Ashton’s principal, Nidia Karbonik, and presented a proposal. She wanted to get the entire school involved in a project, just for children. Her initial idea was to make colorful bracelets for kids battling sicknesses at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

After pitching her proposition, Maggie gathered support from the Student Council, and each 4th- and 5th-grade class at Ashton, as well as fellow classmates, to make the elastic bracelets during recess.

After learning that due to sanitary restrictions the bands could not be distributed at the hospital, she decided to donate the jewelry to children and their families at The Ronald McDonald House of Providence instead.

“Those people have sick children that might not be very happy because they’re afraid,” she said. “They’re scared, so I made bracelets so they would be happy.”

With the help of fellow students, Maggie has been able to collect about 250 bracelets in individual boxes that will be given to children at the facility to choose from.

Maggie not only organized the student-led project, but also taught her peers how to make bracelet designs, using charms, bands of many colors and glow-in-the-dark elastics. She also brought in supplies to share.

Other students also contributed, bringing in looms, connecting hooks for the bracelets, and elastic bands.

The Student Council president, 5th-grader Maddie Estes, helped spread word of the campaign, presenting the idea to classes and helping teach kids how to make the jewelry. Regardless of the level of intricacy of the bracelets, she said, she hopes the kids who receive the jewelry donations will “be joyed, because they’ll know that someone took their time to make this for them, and that someone wants this to go to them.”

She said the bracelets were made with love during 20-minute recess periods.

“They were made knowing that we’re giving them to someone special,” she said.

Maggie McDonald also has a gift for every Ashton student who helped: a bracelet of their own, made by her “to say I’m thankful,” she said.

Those pieces, she explained, she’s been making during her free time at home.

The project, Karbonik said, is “from kids to kids,” adding that Maggie wanted to organize the initiative on her own, without help from her parents or teachers.

Karbonik and Jen Marvel, a teacher at the school, explained that community service projects are embedded in what Ashton does every year. Projects include a “Dress to Impress” fundraiser where students wear their fanciest clothes and donate to cystic fibrosis research, Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and other fundraisers to benefit children with cancer.

With the bracelet donation project, Karbonik said, she hopes the children at Ronald McDonald House know that other kids are thinking about them, and that they’re “inspired by Maggie’s thoughts.”

She and Marvel, who serves as the Student Council advisor, said they hope the young student’s project starts other “pay it forward” initiatives at the school.

Maggie said she doesn’t plan to stop making her favorite bracelets anytime soon, and will continue to create them for friends and family. But for the children at the Ronald McDonald House, she said, she took her time to make them special, “so they have a little brightness in their life.”

Rather than donate money, Maddie Estes said, this jewelry will be “something that they could keep forever.”