School hits roadblock in act of giving - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

School hits roadblock in act of giving

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Ten-year-olds Bree Durham and Ilona Pinzaru look at a map of the United States. Photo by Dan Kennedy/ Ten-year-olds Bree Durham and Ilona Pinzaru look at a map of the United States. Photo by Dan Kennedy/

Students at East Brainerd Intermediate School are learning some valuable lessons about giving this Christmas. But in their journey to help the less-fortunate, a group of fourth graders has hit a big bump in the road.

Ten-year-olds Bree Durham and Ilona Pinzaru know all about giving. It's been a busy semester for the pair and their classmates. The fourth-graders read a book about the "Trail of Tears."

"We were learning about the Trail of Tears and how the Indians were forced to go. And one of the places was to Oklahoma," Bree Durham said.

The book got them thinking: What could they do for the Cherokee children their age all the way in Oklahoma?

"We realized they don't have as much as we do and how thankful we are to have all the stuff we do," Ilona Pinzaru said.

So Ms. Wilkie's class started collecting books for four Oklahoma "Cherokee Nation" schools with very few books. In fact, only seven parents at those schools have Internet access.

One led to ten. Ten led to a hundred. A hundred led to a thousand. And soon the entire school K-5 had contributed.

"We didn't just do any books. They were new and leveled for each grade," Bree said. "Some of the boys and girls took off from recess and sorted them all in the boxes. Well it was fun! It was better than recess."

But there is one problem. The school can't afford to ship these 49 full boxes 700 miles to Oklahoma. Even with a discount, UPS said it would cost $30 per box, that's $1,500 in shipping costs.

"It's too much money, we can't really pay it off. But we're trying," Ilona said. "I want it to work out. I want to get all those books over there and see how happy it makes them."

Now all the books sit boxed up in the gym. But these 10-year-olds stay positive, determined to finish what their class had started.

"We hope that they get there safely and that they're able to enjoy them," Bree said.

"Letting them see all these stories and how things can turn out good and not always as bad as it seems," Ilona said.

Mr. Wilkie said worst-case-scenario, some teachers are planning to take personal days in January to personally drive the books to Oklahoma.


School Patrol

David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.


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