By Sherrie Silvio
As I began the second year building Heroes with Heart with my students, this was a snippet of the conversation I had with my class.
Me: “Why did you want to continue and grow the business this year?”
The students: “We think this is fun and we get to give back and stuff, but mostly it’s just fun.”
We run our EdCorp from my art/maker space at Beth-Center Elementary, a small rural school district in Southwestern, PA. November is the month of giving and I am reflecting on how our business has grown and has allowed us to give back. The obvious answer is that we’ve been able to give monetarily. These students didn’t blink an eye when they said they wanted to give 100% of our profits to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. And sure enough, they were able to make and present $1,191 to the hospital. The giving, though, went beyond just the money.
It began with a small and quiet 3rd-grade student, Allie, who had the courage to approach me with an idea. She asked: “Can you help me make something that will comfort my cousin, Anna, who is going through cancer treatments?” She wanted something that her cousin could hold onto during those long hours of treatments. My response was, of course, “Yes!” The one caveat I gave her was to get the whole grade involved. The idea had to come from her and she had to ask all of her peers if they were willing to help her bring this idea to fruition.
Getting the class Involved.
One spring day during 3rd-grade lunch, Allie stood up, asked for everyone’s attention, and told her cousin’s story. “Would anyone be interested in helping me create something for children like Anna?” The class also responded with a resounding and enthusiastic, “Yes!” That day, Heroes with Heart was born.
The students rallied around the idea of giving. They gave of their time. Many of them staying after the class – even during recess, after school, and some late nights, weekends, and holidays. It was easy to feel that these students were on a mission. They gave of their talents. Each student was able to grow not only as an artist but as a compassionate person. They shared their strengths with each other and built each other up so that no one was left behind. They gave through donations of materials. They gave their story away to anyone who would listen. They were and are so proud of being “kids who can help other kids”.
The collaboration among students was amazing to watch and I have to say one of the most inspirational components in building our business. ~Sherrie Silvio
Growing and still giving.
After 8 months of designing, learning to sew, manufacturing, and production, we launched our product – The Stuffie – in May. The Stuffie is a themed, inspirational stuffed animal that comes in a variety of shapes and colors, each featuring a hero mask and cape.
This fall, the students decided they wanted to modify their stuffies and are again giving of their free time to do so. I had four girls spend five hours on a Saturday creating Christmas and mini-stuffies to sell at Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh’s largest independent artisan craft fair. We will continue to give of our time, our product, and our profits to causes we care about.
Their dedication inspires me. I know that this year will present the students with so many opportunities to give and that they will attack each one with the enthusiasm and hard work I have come to expect from them. Oh, and they will “have fun” doing it, so there’s that.
For more information or to order Stuffies from Heroes with Heart: www.heroeswithheart.com.