By Joan Goodchild
Shrewsbury – In the weeks that followed the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, much of the world watched and sent aid to the country. In Shrewsbury, students at one school decided not only to help out, but to learn something about Japanese tradition while contributing to a worthy cause.
Coolidge Elementary School students raised money by earning funds through “soji,” a tradition in Japan where children do chores. According to Coolidge Principal Amy Clouter, in Japanese schools, at every level, there is a designated time after lunch when the students clean the school. Clouter, who visited Mafunegaoka Elementary School in Takeo during a trip to Japan, saw students of all ages vacuuming, weeding, cleaning windows, dusting and sweeping.
“It's my hope that with your encouragement, our students could take on similar cleaning tasks at home,” Clouter told parents in a letter sent out about the fund-raising effort.
Amanda Kimball, a fourth-grader at Coolidge, wanted to take part after seeing some of the images from Japan.
“I saw a video with my mom and I just felt so bad,” Amanda said. “I really wanted to help them with the clean-up.”
Amanda has been doing dishes, laundry and cleaning the shower for her family to raise money for the Japan fund. Her mother, Laura, pays her $1 for each task, which Amanda then brings in to school to donate.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Laura said. “This is a nice way to raise money, to have the kids help out.”
Clouter said the students have raised close to $300 through their soji donations.