Tasty pastries sold for hurricane relief

Students raise over $700 selling doughnuts

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Philip Chan

To collect money for charity, John O’Connell, junior, serves Safeway Select sweets on a Friday morning, Dec. 8. “It’s really for a good cause,” O’Connell said. “And I really sympathize with the people of Puerto Rico.”

A doughnut-dealing project has drummed up over $700 since early November. Students have come in before school to collect “Dough-nations for Puerto Rico” to send to a Hurricane Maria relief fund.

The effort was born spontaneously in a junior English class, according to teacher Andy West.

In the beginning of the school year, West found a wooden cutout of the U.S. in a recycling bin, an old student project that another teacher no longer wanted. West decided to grab it and display it in his classroom.

On an October afternoon in sixth period, it caught the attention of Derek Vollmann, junior.

“I thought, ‘Man that’s pretty cool,’” Vollmann said.

Vollmann then asked West if he could buy the piece for $10 or $15.

“Technically,” West said, “I don’t think I can sell that to you, but if you want to donate it to the class, we can decide what we want to do with it.”

Vollmann checked his wallet and produced $9, which West accepted as a donation to the class. As a group, they would later decide where that money would go. West then taped the money to the bottom of his metal teaching cart and kept it there for the next month.

In that time, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The Category 5 hurricane made landfall Sept. 20, destroying infrastructure and leaving huge portions of the population without electricity or clean water.

Mia Graham, junior, suggested the class donate Vollmann’s contribution to Puerto Rico, according to West. To raise more money, someone suggested selling donuts.

Each week, the class pools together $30. Every Thursday night, Joe McFadden, junior, takes the money to Safeway to buy five dozen doughnuts. Friday morning, John O’Connell and Lauren Joscelyn, juniors, set up a table under the stairs by the Counseling Office. They sell doughnuts for $2 and collect the bills in a mug.

“The first time we did it,” West said, “We made $100, and I was shocked. There have been people who walk by and straight up put in $10 without getting a doughnut.”

The class agreed on donating the proceeds to a Hurricane Maria relief fund.

“It’s really for a good cause,” O’Connell said. “And I really sympathize with the people of Puerto Rico.”

The charity Save the Children aims to help families repair damage and save children from harm, sickness and hunger, according to their website.

“They don’t have what they need,” Vollmann said. “We’re fortunate enough, healthy enough to have what we need.”

West sees this project as an opportunity for his class to practice writing and public speaking, while also building community with conversations inside and outside of school. To support their doughnut sales, students have hand-drawn posters, created social media accounts, written a vision statement and come up with the pun “Dough-nations for Puerto Rico.”

“It’s taking high school kids and doing something out of nothing,” Dylan Burch, junior, said.

Although doughnuts will still be available on Friday mornings on a week-by-week basis, students intend to take the project beyond selling sweets. According to West, they have discussed asking local businesses to put out donation jars.

West intends to return the kickstarting $9 to Vollmann and take the wooden cutout back. That map will be a powerful symbol, West hopes. He may mount a class photo to it or have students to sign it, in hopes that a future Vollmann will spot it, and West will have a story to tell.

“Somewhere, a year or five from now, a student in some other class will say, ‘Mr. West, what is that sign over there?’ And then I’ll tell them the story of the weird English 11, sixth period class that turned into a doughnut fundraiser for the children of Puerto Rico in a really bizarre, organic way.”