Acts of Kindness: Thurston Elementary students raise thousands for disaster victims

Fifth graders at Thurston Elementary School presented a $5,000 check to the Shelter Box Organization Wednesday morning. (SBG photo)

Watch Acts of Kindness #LiveonKMTR Tuesday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – A class of fifth grade students at Thurston Elementary School is proving anyone can make a difference. The class raised thousands of dollars by simply folding paper.

“This is what a final product looks like. It's got the string, your hook and then you got your beads,” described Alex Pehaim, a fifth-grade student.

Since the start of May, Mrs. Mendelssohn’s fifth grade class at Thurston Elementary has been an origami crane factory.

“You have to fold it up. It’s called a fox face and you fold it into a face and then make the tail,” said student Ocean Sutton.

The class made more than 1,000 cranes and sold every one. The students’ work raised over $5,000.

“It’s epic. It's the biggest amount we have ever raised,” Mendelssohn said.

“When you get to $5,000, that’s overly amazing,” Pehaim said.

But that money won’t stay in the classroom. It will be donated to Shelter Box, an organization that helps victims of disasters.

“It means a lot to me because we helped so many people. And all the families that have no home get a home,” said student Riley Wolf.

The money could help as many as 500 people.

“It kind of means to me that I have done good in the world and fifth graders can rule the world someday,” said student Skylar Neckels.

The world just might be in good hands when these kids grow up.

“It’s really exciting for these kids to realize they can make an impact even though they are only 10 and 11. They are never too young to learn they can make a difference,” Mendelssohn said.

To reward the students for their hard work, NBC 16 gave them a gift certificate for a pizza party.

Cranes for a Cause was started in 2009. It is a yearly tradition in Mrs. Mendelssohn’s class. Every year the students donate the money raised to a charity of their choice.

This is the most money a class has ever raised.

If you’d like to nominate someone for NBC 16’s Acts of Kindness, send an email to

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