Student-giving campaign raised more than $50,000 for local non-profits

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A Skyline High School senior broke her school’s record for the largest fundraiser by an individual student after raising $6,500 for the Pennies from the Heart campaign.

Common Cents – Pennies from the Heart is a yearly, districtwide effort where students from all grade levels raise funds for charities of their own choosing.

Skyline requires that the students running for a homecoming court position participate in the school’s yearly fundraiser competition. When one of her friends got lupus, Princess Fulcher raised funds for a physical health advocacy non-profit.

“It’s not only about winning homecoming queen, but it’s also about other people and helping them,” Fulcher said. “I feel really accomplished. I only thought it was going to be in the $1,000s or $2,000s. It made me feel good about myself because I’m helping other people.”

Princess Fulcher, a Skyline High School senior, raised more than $6,500 to support Cancer Care Services.

For Pennies From the Heart, students across the district chose to support a variety of causes. Among them were animal rescue organizations, physical and mental health advocacy agencies, nonprofits for legal immigration assistance, and shelters for domestic violence victims and for individuals who identify as LGBTQ, among others.

Since it began 22 years ago, Dallas ISD schools have collected more than $950,000 for local organizations through this program. This year, students from 37 Dallas ISD schools raised $50,817, which will go to 44 Dallas organizations.

The fundraiser’s methods vary. For example, students could organize a “Wear A Hat Day” at their campus and collect $1 from each participant. Other groups could lead a bake sale or wash cars to raise funds.

For several consecutive years, Skyline High School has been the campus that raised the most funds for this campaign. For this year’s campaign, Skyline broke two school records: the largest fundraiser by an individual student and the most money ever raised by their campus ($14,816).

Skyline’s method

Skyline homecoming court has been directly tied with the Pennies from the Heart campaign for the last 15 years.

Differently from most schools, Skyline’s homecoming court nominees compete for the title through fundraising instead being elected through a student vote.

“It changes their whole aspect,” said Katrina Phillips, government teacher and Student Senate sponsor at Skyline. “Even if they join the competition because they want to be homecoming queen or king, their focus changes when they realize the good deed that they’re doing.”

In order to earn the title desired homecoming court position, each prospect has to go through several steps.

Students and staff who participated in the Pennies from the Heart fundraiser present checks with their donations to Common Cents on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Early in the school year, Skyline students vote to nominate their peers for a homecoming court position. The students who earn the most votes advance to the fundraiser round. In one month, each student must raise at least $100 for a charity of their choosing. The student who raises the most funds earns the title that he /she is competing for.

This system was already in place when Phillips began teaching at Skyline six years ago. She’s overseen the process ever since joining Raider Nation, and just this year managed 22 students who supported 17 charities.

Philips realizes that students can learn very valuable life lessons and skills from this competition.

She’s seen high school seniors take on the logistics and management of over 30 volunteers for car wash fundraisers. She’s noticed how students spend time sending “Thank You” messages to their donors after they’ve supported their causes and witnessed how some go out of their comfort zone to request donations from their peers.

However, the most remarkable feature is the selflessness and the commitment that most students show, even when some could use a helping hand themselves.

“Considering that most of our students are economically disadvantaged, for any kid to be able to raise $100 for anything other than their family’s light bill is a sacrifice,” Phillips said. “Most of the students raised more than $100; even the ones who have to work after school.”

Fulcher selected to support Cancer Care Services. She began posting about her fundraiser on social media and asking her family, her friends and fellow church members to contribute with cash, checks and through apps. The high school senior was among five Skyline students who raised over $900 this year. Fulcher’s $6,500 donation has been the largest amount collected by a single student in Skyline’s history.

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