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Sonoma Ranch Stallions spreading love by giving back

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Kids Heart Challenge graphic with a jump rope, basketball, and American Heart Association Logo.Service to others is one of the many ways that students, families and staff at  Sonoma Ranch Elementary are spreading love. This February, the Stallions are taking part in the Kids Heart Challenge put on by the American Heart Association. The challenge promotes healthy living and choices. It also raises money to save lives. Physical Education teacher, Troy Galvan, helps organize the challenge at the school every year.

“The students here are just wonderful, and they never cease to amaze me,” he said.

Galvan has a personal connection to the cause as some of his loved ones have experienced heart issues. When he shares his story with his students, they feel his passion and get onboard. 

“There are students here who’ve also had experiences in their families with heart disease, so their families get involved,” he said.

Last school year, Sonoma Ranch raised $5,000 for the cause in just five days. They continued to surpass their fundraising goals, so Galvan and two teachers on campus were all sprayed with silly string as an incentive for the students. 

“They really enjoyed it,” Galvan said, “Hopefully, we will outdo last year’s totals.”

Sonoma Ranch students spray Mr. Troy Galvin with silly string outside on the school's playground.If students achieve the school’s goals this year, Galvan and two more teachers will be color blasted. Students who participate also receive ‘thank you’ gifts from the American Heart Association based on the amount of money they raise. Small items like bracelets, shirts, or socks. Galvan also receives a gift card for Sonoma Ranch that he uses to purchase new equipment for the school. While there are some families who can’t afford to give large amounts, students are able to give what they can.

“I have students who just really want to be a part of it, so they’ll bring me a dollar. I’ll still give them a $5 thank you gift, because that is something from their heart,” he said.

In addition to fundraising, the challenge encourages students to get moving. Galvan puts together rotating stations in PE to help students understand the importance of being active.

“I’ll have a jump rope station, a hula hoop station, and a basketball station,” he said, “It works and gets all the students active, so even if they didn’t donate, they are still doing the activities.”

The Kids Heart Challenge fundraiser comes on the heels of another service project at Sonoma Ranch. The school’s National Elementary Honor Society chapter recently did a donation drive collecting gently-used and new items for Helen’s Hope Chest. The program, created by Mesa United Way, provides basic necessities for Arizona’s foster children and the families who care for them. The school ended up giving 2,500 pieces of clothing in just nine days.

“The community really comes together,” said Mary Howard, a fifth grade teacher and co-advisor for the club.

Service is the focus of the National Elementary Honor Society. The fifth and sixth grade students at Sonoma Ranch participate in a variety of activities and projects throughout the year, including campus clean-ups, shelving library books, writing ‘thank you’ cards to first responders and creating holiday banners for seniors. For schoolwide projects, like the clothing donation drive, the students really take the lead in recruiting their classmates for support.

National Elementary Honor Society members pose for a large group photo in the hallway of Sonoma Ranch Elementary.“They go in and read their scripts to classes,” Howard said, “They sort [the clothes] and put them into bags.” 

These types of projects help students gain new skills like time management, learning how to advocate for a cause, public speaking and showing initiative. The students are also understanding more about the community and world around them.

“I think the kids are gaining an appreciation for what people do and don’t have,” Howard said, “I do notice a difference with those kids feeling better about themselves, because they’ve done something for someone else and feeling good about it.” 

No fundraising challenge is too big for the Stallions.

“This is a hidden gem of the district. For a small school, they always come up big for others,” Galvan said. 

To learn more about Sonoma Ranch Elementary, schedule a school tour or enroll today!

Written by Kailey Latham