Messy room sparks idea for community project
Founders' Hall eighth-grader Cheyenne Burns, 13, of White Oak said it was the night of parent-teacher conferences in early October when she literally stumbled upon a big idea in her messy bedroom.
“When I walked in my room that night, I knocked over a big pile of clothes that I had planned to donate to the Salvation Army,” she said. “But then I thought, ‘If I have this many clothes just laying around, how much do all the students from the entire school have?'”
It was the humble beginning of Cheyenne's Project Christmas — a McKeesport Area School District fundraiser and donation drive to benefit Kiesell Soup Kitchen in downtown McKeesport.
Cheyenne was so excited that night, her 12-year-old sister Cierra said, that neither of them got much sleep.
“She kept me up until like 2 a.m.,” said Cierra with a laugh. “She wouldn't stop talking about it.”
By morning, the pair had shared their plan with their mother, Ethel Burns, and the wheels were set in motion. Although Cheyenne originally intended only to collect clothes, Burns said her daughter's good will and ambition proved to be contagious.
“I thought it was a great idea, so I called (assistant principal) Anthony Popowitz and told him about it,” Burns said. “He said it was something the school would be interested in. Ever since then, we've been working with the district and contacting friends and family to try to get any type of donations we can get — whether it's cash, gently used toys or clothes, winter supplies or nonperishable goods.”
The fundraiser kicked off on Friday at Founders' Hall where students pitched in a dollar to stretch the district's strict dress code and wear jeans. Beginning on Tuesday and through Dec. 13, students and community members will be welcome to donate items at any district school to be distributed at two events in December at Kiesell Soup Kitchen.
“We're planning to have a children's party (at the kitchen along Fifth Avenue) on Dec. 20 and a dinner there for kids and adults on Dec. 22,” Burns said. “We're looking at probably about 500 children for the kids' party and 200 people for the dinner, so we need all we can get.”
School district spokeswoman Kristen Giran said although it's not uncommon for students to start fundraisers for their classes, it's rare to have one start such a large-scale initiative.
“We've had kids come up with building-level projects before,” Giran said. “But for a child to come to us and ask if they can do it district-wide is something to be admired.”
Still, Cheyenne isn't all that interested in garnering attention for herself.
“I just really want to try to help homeless people,” she said. “I want to give them a good Christmas.”
To donate money or items to Cheyenne's Project Christmas, take contribution to a McKeesport Area School District building before Dec. 13.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- UPMC McKeesport president reiterates hospital will remain open
- ‘Last of the downtown mansions’ demolished in McKeesport
- Pleasant Hills council passes chicken ordinance
- White Oak council puts restrictions on solicitors, second-hand shops
- Glassport woman upset over property status
- McKeesport, neighboring school districts to receive more overall funding from state
- McKeesport man whose dog bit officer waives charges to court
- Oily sheen on Monongahela River remains under investigation
- W.D. Mansfield Memorial Bridge rehab project remains on schedule
- McKeesport community walk aims to curb street violence
- North Versailles residents upset over feral cats, damaged property