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Tyler ISD students create business to help fellow classmates

Their business, A-Z Crafts, helps cover the expenses for in-class fundraising events whenever fellow classmates are unable to pay.

TYLER, Texas — Students looking out for fellow classmates at Jack Elementary School in Tyler has led to a new business that assures every student can participate in school events despite the cost. 

Fourth-graders, Merus Redwing and Zoe Zolkoski, noticed some of their classmates didn’t always bring money for school fundraiser events like Kona Ice Day or Pizza by the Slice Day. Then they noticed one of their classmates, Angie Ruiz, didn’t check out a library book and that got them thinking.

“Angie loves to read and is always reading, but she couldn’t get a new book because she had lost a library book and needed to either find it or replace it,” Zoe said. “We wanted to help Angie pay for her lost book so she could get another one to read. We also wanted to help others in our class.”

Merus, Zoe, and Angie came together to sell handmade jewelry and other crafts. Two more classmates, Sarah Smith and McKenzie Bowling, quickly joined in.

"So we had an idea and we started making some jewelry and we had a lot of fun doing it," Merus said.

“We call our business "A-Z Crafts" because we care about Angie to Zoe and everybody in between,” Zoe said. We make keychains, fidget toys, bracelets, necklaces.

The girls' teacher, Kelly Bogenschutz, encouraged them to sell their pieces to help raise money for classmates who might need help financially for an event at school.

"We sell the bracelets by going around and saying 'hey do you want to help these people to get their library books and by bracelet? And they were like OK sure,'" Zoe said.

Many of their creations also include encouraging words like “Sparkle,” “Love,” and “Be Happy.” To drum up business, the girls spent the first day giving away their creations. Then, they began selling them for $.25 to $1.00 each.

"We’ve raised about $63," Merus said. "Once we paid, the next library day they got to get books and it was awesome."

Bogenschutz says she believes the girls’ business has had a positive impact in the classroom.  

"They’ve been working at this for a few months and it’s been really positive for the girls and really positive for the rest of our class for them seeing the leaders they can be, and just want one act of kindness can do for a whole class so it’s been great," she said.

The money raised has been used to help cover the expenses for in-class fundraising events whenever their fellow classmates are unable to pay. 

The girls plan to keep their business running for the remainder of the semester and maybe even again next school year. 

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