First Graders Beam with Pride

Every year, first graders in Mrs. Anglin’s class at Mary Raber Elementary School enjoy an early lesson in philanthropy.

Throughout the year, they save up their pennies, nickels and dimes to support a non-profit agency in the community. Presentations are given on various organizations and students pick one to support.

“Every year I do a community service project in my classroom,” said first grade teacher Pam Anglin. “We brainstorm about charities and how to make our money grow in the community.”

Sitting and listening to these presentations, little Dixie Kessler thought hard about a cause very near and dear to her heart.

Standing before her classmates, Kessler spoke from her heart about the Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Fund at the Whitley County Community Foundation.

“She talked about the Foundation and what they did,” Anglin said. She also talked about how the fund was set up in memory of her brother who drowned in a swimming pool and how the fund pays for swimming lessons so that young children can learn to swim.

Kessler’s story had great meaning for her classmates and they immediately rallied in support of her and in support of the Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Fund.

“We talked about it and this is what they decided they wanted to do,” Anglin said. Over the course of the year, a few cents at a time, they managed to fill the fundraising jar and then began collecting money in a plastic bag. The coins were from students and a few Mary Raber teachers supported their fundraising with cash donations.

Months later, Anglin and her students were elated to see they’d raised much more than prior classes ever dreamed of.

“We don’t know for sure how much we have yet, but it is over $60,” Anglin said as the enthusiastic room buzzed with excitement Friday afternoon when Kesslers’ grandmothers, Tammy Azar and Tammie Kessler, visited the classroom to personally thank the children for their donation to the fund.

Wearing matching Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Fund t-shirts, the grandmothers beamed with pride in their granddaughter and in the good that will be accomplished with the funds raised in her classroom.

The students were equally proud.

“I’m really happy,” Dixie Kessler said, hoisting the full jar of coins up for a closer look, classmates poised nearby.

“I feel really proud for Dixie,” said classmate Sophia Hatcher.

“This is just a fabulous thing,” said Anglin of the student’s support for their classmate and her cause. “It has been absolutely amazing.”

The donation will soon be presented to the Whitley County Community Foundation where it will be used to fund swimming lessons for children under age 5 who cannot afford them through the Whitley County Family YMCA.

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TammyA says ... on Sunday, May 24 at 8:10 AM

Photos and story by Jennifer Zartman Romano of

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