By Joyce Coronel
For most of us, being a proud grandparent comes naturally. Whether it’s athletic prowess or academic success, lots of grandparents in Tempe and West Chandler enjoy regaling others regarding their amazing grandkids.
So when Wrangler News caught wind of two proud grandmothers, each with a tale of grandchildren’s generous actions on behalf of children affected by the recent hurricanes, we couldn’t resist a closer look and a bit of bragging ourselves.
Terri Lisi has three grandkids who attend St. John Bosco Catholic School. A few weeks ago, they sat glued to the television with her, taking in the coverage of the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.
Michael, 13, an eighth-grader, along with 11-year-old sixth-grade cousins Jack and Bella, watched as scenes of the hurricane’s aftermath flickered on the screen. “We sat here and we were watching it in disbelief,” Lisi said. “All these children that were sitting on cots kind of looked like they looked like they were in shock.”
Michael, Jack and Bella, all members of St. John Bosco’s service organization The Ambassadors, said they wanted to do something to help. Turns out other students at St. John Bosco felt the same way.
The kids decided that children affected by the hurricane probably needed something to help pass the time in the shelters, something that was small enough for cramped quarters and yet entertaining.
“They came up with some really good ideas,” Lisi said.
Student Council officers alongside the Ambassadors group rallied the school into action. Families of students in the pre-K program through eighth grade worked to gather coloring books, crayons, mini-puzzles and more.
“Some of the older kids decided stuffed animals would be nice, something to snuggle with because they probably left their favorite stuffed toy back at their house that got flooded,” Lisi said.
First-grade teacher Jenna Gump, mother of Bella, was on hand when 27 Ambassadors and student council members filled her classroom to pack boxes for Hurricane Harvey victims.
“I think they tried to put themselves in the shoes of the children who might be in these areas that were affected by the hurricane,” Jenna said. “That’s where they came up with the idea of sending coloring books and soft sports balls that, even if (the kids) are inside a shelter, they can still toss and not get in trouble.”
It was the students themselves, Jenna said, who dreamed up the idea of reaching out to their peers hit hard by Harvey.
“They are the ones that rallied the school and made posters, sent emails and walked around to every single classroom and talked about it so that the drive would be successful,” Jenna said.
Project Hope for Harvey ultimately gathered and shipped 16 28-pound boxes of toys, coloring books, playing cards and puzzles. St. Vincent de Paul Society of Texas will ensure the packages reach child victims of Hurricane
Bella told Lisi: “That made me feel really good, Grandma, because I was really sad watching those kids look so unhappy. I feel like we sent them a little bit of happy.”
Lisi isn’t the only proud grandma in town. We also heard from Elizabeth Jackson, whose granddaughter Madison J. has been making bracelets for other kids since 2012. She’s gone from gifting the beaded bangles to unhappy classmates to seriously ill children whose families stay at the Ronald McDonald House while they are hospitalized. Even homeless children staying in shelters received Madison J.’s creations.
Once the hurricane hit, the 10-year-old Mariposa student knew there were more kids who might need something to smile about.
“When she saw the children who have lost everything, her heart went out to them. She saw they had nothing and that is probably making them sad,” Jackson said.
Her goal is 1,000 bracelets which will make their way to shelters in Houston via Jackson’s brother-in-law. Madison J. is hoping the community will want to get involved with the project. In that vein, a bracelet-making day will be held at Mariposa School on Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The fifth-grade student has already been featured in a magazine for her good works and was scheduled to appear on a local television program, Sonoran Living, to speak about her endeavor.
A GoFundMe page has been established at gofundme.com/happybracelet