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'Have A Heart': Leander 4th-graders raise more than $1K for local homeless through Valentine's project

Through their project, 'Have a Heart', fourth-graders sold paper hearts to raise money for Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

AUSTIN, Texas — The most romantic holiday of the year, Valentine's Day brings people together to share nice moments. That is what happened for the fourth graders at Rutledge Elementary School who wanted to give back.  

Through their project, "Have a Heart," they sold paper hearts to the entire school during the week leading up to Valentine's Day. The proceeds go to Mobile Loaves and Fishes

They raised more than $1,000 in just four days, but it took more than a month of preparation.

"It took a lot of hard work and I hope the people get what they needed," said Addie Hutcheson, a fourth-grader at Rutledge, a Leander ISD school. 

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Starting in January, the students were tasked with researching four different charities. They then voted on which charity they wanted to support.

This year, they selected Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit that supports people experiencing homelessness.

"It teaches the people who don't have very important life skills, those life skills, and that's very important to me," said Kingston Cruz, another fourth-grader working on the project. 

Once students selected the charity, they applied for various jobs to help promote the fundraiser. This included creating posters, anchoring a newscast, making a presentation and selling the hearts to all the classrooms in the school. 

Small hearts cost $0.25 and large hearts cost $5.  

"Our hope is that they realize even though they are children, they really can change the world," said Carolyn Eppinette, a fourth-grade teacher who introduced the project to the school three years ago.

In previous years, the school also raised money for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Humane Society

Mobile Loaves and Fishes will attend a presentation on Feb. 20 to accept the donation. 

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