Sixth-graders help tornado victims

By Andrew Tressler - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Thu., Dec. 15, 2011
Square One Vice President Kim Lee receives a check from Mabelle B. Avery Middle School sixth-graders. Photos by Andrew Tressler.
Square One Vice President Kim Lee receives a check from Mabelle B. Avery Middle School sixth-graders. Photos by Andrew Tressler.

Mabelle B. Avery Middle School sixth-graders are helping to donate funds to their chosen community service project, through the 3-POP organization. 3-POP, led by co-directors Paula LaJoie and Renata Bowers, began in 2010 as a way to encourage and build on a sense of empathy, by bringing unity and teamwork together to the incoming sixth-grade class.

It began last year, after some of the students read 15-year-old Austin Gutwein’s book “Take Your Best Shot.” It is truly a way for young boys and girls to team up to help reach a common goal. In this second year of 3-POP, the students of Somers’ class of 2018 truly shined, raising more than $1,800 to donate to Square One Early Education School in Springfield, Mass.,which was destroyed during the June 2011 tornado.

“It is priceless,” said Vice President of Square One Kim Lee about the donation, “not simply because of the monetary contributions or the financial support, but because of all the energy, enthusiasm and excitement that these young children displayed in support of and on behalf of a population of children that they didn’t know.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Lee attended an assembly where she received, on behalf of Square One, the funds raised, as well as hundreds of children’s books, including one book specially made by members of the class for Square One, donated by the sixth-grade class.

The 3-POP program emphasizes “three points on purposes”: 1. Aim 2. Shoot 3. Win. "Aim" is about dreaming big about what you love to do and how you can, as students, turn that passion into a positive impact on the world. "Shoot" is about believing that you can make a difference and to always give it a shot. "Win" is about supporting others and striving together to become one true team to reach one goal.

“It’s a start of perpetuating community service,” said Somers First Selectman Lisa Pellegrini. “It’s something that you think, if you’re in sixth grade, ‘What can I do to help make a difference?’ This is a perfect way to just bond together with your peers and you can make so much of a difference in somebody’s life.”

In the summer of 2011, the class got together to pick a community service project, with help from Lajoie and Bowers, but after that it was up to the kids to make a difference. They raised funds by putting together events like a bake sale, a farmers' market, and a golf center fund. Students Anna Kalinowski, Kelsey Bugden and Natalie Devlin led the bake sale. The idea for the golf center fund came from Liam Horan-Portelance, Spencer MacLeod and Connor Lewis. The farmers' market was headed by Connor Mulvihill and Nicole Turley, but had a lot of help from fellow classmates Ethan Sparrow, Alex Miller, Brett Boyd and Danny Flannerty. 

“We will help publicize it and get the word out so people support it, but that’s all we do,” said 3-POP director Bowers. “That $1,800 was raised by those kids. The kids really do all the work, from A to Z.”

Taking part in events like this while still in middle school helps to instill good values in young people. “They’re all winners,” said Somers Rotary and Keeney Foundation Representative Tim Keeney, who also played a role in both this year’s and last year’s 3-POP projects. “This is the first time these kids have gotten involved in something like this - a community-based volunteer program. It’s the beginning of hopefully a lifetime of dedication, understanding and support.”

For more information on 3-POP, visit For more information on Square One, visit

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.