When Samantha Martel gets an idea, she's going for it. Earlier this year, the high-energy Mason Intermediate fourth grader heard about a classmate, Alonso Ortiz, who was battling cancer.
"My friend told me about Alonso (he was in her switch class) and they had a fake monkey named Bob taking his place because [Alonso] is in the hospital. I thought, I wanna do something for this kid in our school with cancer. So, I talked to my teachers [Jennifer Anthony and Shirley Hudspeth] and they told me to write a note to my counselor Mrs. Montgomery about my idea and then I talked to [Mason Intermediate School Principal] Mr. Sears and he said he thought it was a really good idea!" Samantha enthusiastically explains.
That big idea? Ask all of Mason Intermediate's 777 fourth graders to donate 500 new books and toys in Alonso's honor to benefit patients at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"I haven't met Alonso, but I've seen him in pictures and his parents emailed that they thought it was a good idea," Samantha said.
Samantha's dad, Phillip, helped her design a flyer featuring a picture of Alonso, and then Samantha and some friends put the flyers up around their school. She and her dad went to area businesses and got prizes to reward students who earned a chance to win each time the fourth graders brought in a new toy or book. Samantha then organized a group of students who met on their lunch hour in Counselor Montgomery's office to sort the toys.
On October 16, Samantha delivered those toys to Cincinnati Children's on behalf of all her classmates. And the goal? Mason Intermediate fourth graders crushed it - bringing in over 700 new books and toys!
"Our job is to make the hospital less scary for kids, and coming into a patient's room with a toy makes it less scary. You guys are awesome!" Sarah Sands, Child Life Specialist, told Samantha as she and her family wheeled in all those toys that filled two vehicles to the brim.
Samantha speaks for all her classmates when she shares what she hopes Alonso knows. "Our school cares so much about you - you're such a big deal!" She goes on to explain, "I haven't just done this for kids at Children's Hospital -though we've really done that! - I've also done it so kids in my school think they can help out."
One of the Mason City School District’s bold steps has been to encourage students of all ages to practice and demonstrate leadership while serving others.
"As Samantha's principal, I am so proud of what she and our fourth graders accomplished. Our district's vision is 'Growing Greatness Together' and this is a perfect example of just how great we can be when we work together!” said Greg Sears, MI principal.