Charter School students receive Make a Difference awards

Morgan Taylor, left, and Sarah Chickering helped raise more than $1,000 by organizing a bake sale and a raffle. — Photo by Amanda Adams

Sarah Chickering and Morgan Taylor, eighth-grade students at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, were among 100 middle school students from across Massachusetts honored for the difference they have made in their communities through service projects.

Sarah and Morgan each received a Make a Difference Award on March 15 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston in recognition of their fundraising efforts on behalf of the Pencils of Promise Program. The program builds schools in developing countries around the globe.

The two girls held bake sales and a raffle last June during their two-week project period at the Charter School.

“Sarah and Morgan had an idea and galvanized the school community in raising over $1,000 for the Pencils of Promise Program,” Charter School Director Robert Moore wrote in a news release.

“This was my first time raising money for something I really believed in, and it was really cool,” Morgan said in a phone conversation with The Times on Tuesday. “I’m definitely inspired to go on doing this. If we have another opportunity to work with them again, I would take it. In 2008 they built about 30 schools. It’s incredible.”

“We thought Pencils of Promise was cool,” Sarah agreed. “Lots of kids don’t have the opportunity to go to school, and we figure everyone should get the chance.”

Morgan said the raffle brought in the most money. To start, she and Sarah asked some of their favorite stores in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs for donations.

“The businesses were so nice,” Sarah said. “We told them what we were doing, and they were so generous.”

The girls sold raffle tickets outside the Cronig’s and Stop & Shop supermarkets in Vineyard Haven. “It was a lot of hard work,” Morgan said.

The girls said they set their fundraising goal high. “I wasn’t entirely sure we’d raise it; we live in such a small community,” Sarah said.

“It was surreal; incredible,” Morgan said. “We set a goal of over $1,000 and it was awesome to actually reach it.” Pencils of Promise has contacted her and Sarah about featuring them on the program’s website, she added.

Mr. Moore, who nominated the girls for the award, accompanied them to last week’s ceremony where they received personalized certificates.

In remarks at the event, Library Director Tom Putnam said, “President Kennedy believed that every person can make a difference and each of us should try. These students are an inspiring example of JFK’s timeless call to service.”

All students in grades six to eight who are involved in unique community service projects are eligible for the award. They are nominated by teachers, principals, and counselors in Massachusetts middle schools. The Make A Difference Awards program receives generous support from Comcast.