RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- A Randolph County elementary class lost a Christmas card contest. But in the long run, they are the winners.
Depending on the day, Suzanne Santomieri can have 10 to 13 students in her Level Cross Elementary classroom. By number, that's a small class. But Santomieri's challenge is huge.
"Some are non verbal. Some have limited verbal abilities, but they are a great group and a lot of fun," Santomieri said.
The kids have a great time working at the interactive board while Santomieri holds an iPad. Step by step, the kids are learning the days of the week and the months. Then they bring it all together to make a complete sentence. The students listen closely as the iPad repeats their sentence.
"I want Tuesday, I want Tuesday," repeated the iPad.
While it is a small class, it takes time to teach communication skills to each student. That's where Christmas cards come in. The kids practiced developing their motor skills by tracing and coloring their cards. The holiday cards did not win a contest that was sponsored by a local business. But Santomieri felt the Christmas cards were too pretty to ignore and found another purpose.
"The cards came out so great that we decided this would be something awesome to do as a fundraiser for our kids," Santomieri said. "There are a lot of things in the classroom that we need. The main thing being a second classroom iPad."
With a second iPad, Santomieri and the classroom assistants could teach more students. So the fundraiser was off. And it took off.
"Within 48 hours, we had over 80 packs of cards sold, more than I can ever imagine," Santomieri said.
Each pack has 10 cards and sell for $10. The folks at Level Cross Elementary and the print shop at Archdale Office Supply were shocked. Charles Fitzgerald is spending a lot of time listening to the hum of a busy printer crank out colorful Christmas cards.
"Thought that would be a great thing," Fitzgerald said. "The more she has, the more kids she is able to get them where they can communicate better."
Along with printing the Christmas cards, Fitzgerald is also donating an iPad. That makes two iPads for the class. Add with the iPad that was given by an anonymous donor, Level Cross Elementary Special Need students now have three iPads.
"I just want to say thank you for supporting our classroom. Our students are very deserving and we appreciate it," Santomieri said.
At last check, the Level Cross Elementary Special Needs class has sold over 100 packs of Christmas cards. Since the class now has three iPads, the money from the Christmas card sells will be used to buy tools that will help the students refine their motor skills and communication skills.
If you would like to participate in the Functional Skills Christmas card fundraiser, click here.