#Team14: Fourth-grader’s generosity boosts school fund drive  

Betty BeanFeature, Inside 640

An effort led by two fourth-grade teachers to raise money to give a group of Christenberry Elementary School kids a long weekend in the Smokies next spring has gotten a PR boost from a generous student.


The note with the donation said, “Hello Mrs. Benson, I know you are struggling to get money for Tremont, so I am donating $14 to help pay.” The contribution not only has inspired others to do the same, but also has launched a hashtag –  #team14 – that is trending across social media.

Michelle Denise Watkins, a fourth- and fifth-grade resource teacher, said the three-day, two-night stay at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will cost some $7,000.

“It’s a very expensive trip – $200 per child, plus another $350 for a male chaperone and $500 for the bus.”

Fourth-grade teacher Marianne Benson, clad in her reflective “walking school bus” vest, said 30 students have signed up for the trip, with a few more expected to join the group as soon as they can get their applications in.

“She gave me $14 of her own money,” Benson said of the donor. “It’s inspiring others to match it, and we hope to be able to take 35 students.”

Watkins said the prospect of the trip, which will take place next May, is very exciting to her students, most of whom cannot afford to go without a little help from their friends.

“For so many, it will be their first time roasting marshmallows, their first time hiking and their first time catching salamanders.”

Benson said her student’s gift has given her hope.

“This act of kindness brought tears to my eyes. Please consider matching this child’s generous donation. Your contribution will help provide an incredible learning experience to deserving students!”

Donations can be mailed to Christenberry Elementary School, 927 Oglewood Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917. Checks should be marked Tremont Donation in the note section.

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