AMESBURY — A group of middle school students and their parents are dedicating the rest of the month to raising money by practicing acts of kindness.

Sheila Beach is a board member of the Amesbury Middle School Parent Advisory Group, which she said has grown tired of the traditional fundraisers.

“In the past, we have always done a catalog fundraiser but there’s not a whole lot of enthusiasm for things like that, either with the parents or the students,” Beach said.

The Parent Advisory Group surveyed its members last spring asking them what they would prefer to use for fundraising.

“Pretty much everyone said, ‘we don’t care what you are selling, we don’t want to sell it,’” Beach said. “But one parent responded with ‘Raise Craze.’”

Raise Craze is an online fundraising site based around acts of kindness. The website provides planning, promotion and tracking of the acts of kindness campaigns, which people can donate money toward.

“This really hasn’t been done (in the Northeast) a lot,” Beach said. “But you get to create an individual website for each student who can do some acts of kindness and ask for donations. So it is really like an acts of kindness, community service fundraiser where the kids are serving instead of selling.”

Students can create their own Raise Craze page which they can send to family and friends; the service also provides suggested acts of kindness lists, incentive ideas and a go-to guide.

“They can take out somebody’s trash cans or rake for an elderly neighbor,” Beach said.

“They can send cards to soldiers or to elderly people. It is a really sweet idea that anybody can find something to do.”

A student can participate in the Raise Craze program without raising any money themselves.

“For the kids who are economically challenged and can’t really raise money now, they can just do acts of kindness,” Beach said. “That gives them an opportunity to participate and we are really just looking for 100% participation. Raising money is awesome but nobody has to do that.”

Looking to drive up student participation, the Parent Advisory Group kicked off its 19-day Raise Craze campaign by cleaning up the middle school courtyard on Thursday.

“Middle schoolers tend to get a really bad rap,” Beach said. “So, this gives them opportunities to really get out there and show the community they are helping others and really enjoy it.”

Although Thursday marked the campaign’s first day, 15 students took part in the courtyard clean up.

“We already have over 30 students participating and that was within less than 24 hours,” she said. “We have also raised about $1,250 already. That’s pretty impressive.”

Fifth-grader Nick Creps took part and Thursday’s cleanup and said he had a great time doing it.

“I wanted to help out and help make our school a better place,” Nick said. “It was very enjoyable because I was with all of my friends and we got to do it together. I felt there was a strong bond between us.”

Eight-grader Tucker Heline also took part in the cleanup.

“We did the cleanup so that teachers can use that space some more four classes,” Tucker said. “We also want students to have a better time out there. It was good to get the new mulch down and it looked good. It was fun cleaning it up, overall.”

The courtyard clean up kids had such a good time Thursday that they are planning to clean up the nature trail behind the middle school next Thursday.

The Amesbury Middle School Raise Craze initiative runs until Sept. 30 and the Parent Advisory Group should realize 90% of the funds raised by the campaign, according to Beach.

“Typically, with a sales fundraiser or with another organization, you only get 40%,” Beach said. “With Raise Craze, you get 90% and that really sets them apart.”

The Amesbury Middle School Parent Advisory Group Raise Craze page can be found at: https://my.raisecraze.com/give/ayxrzfm.

“I hope a ton of people will do this with us,” Nick said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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