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Fourth-graders stage art show for United Way


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Columbus native and WTHR news anchor Nicole Pence and Columbus Signature Academy-Fodrea campus fourth graders hold up acrylic-painted decorative glasses made for an upcoming art show.
Submitted photo Columbus native and WTHR news anchor Nicole Pence and Columbus Signature Academy-Fodrea campus fourth graders hold up acrylic-painted decorative glasses made for an upcoming art show.

Submitted photo
Among the students' favorite pieces thus far: painted wooden snowmen.
Submitted photo Among the students' favorite pieces thus far: painted wooden snowmen.


Creativity was a factor in achieving the just-completed record $4 million United Way of Bartholomew County fundraising campaign.

Some people garnered pledges and jumped rope. Others sold books.

But fourth-grade students at Columbus Signature Academy-Fodrea campus have taken the concept of creative fundraising literally. They are sponsoring an art show and silent auction, “Art For a Cause: Masterpiece in a Day,” on April 23 to benefit United Way.

The students were among award winners honored at Thursday’s United Way annual meeting at Factory 12 Event Loft. They received an Advocate Award — and applause from a crowd of about 200 people.

“We hope to be an inspiration to others that anyone can give back to their community,” said Lyndsey Linneweber, a fourth-grade teacher working with Suzanne Diehn, another fourth-grade teacher, on the project. “This proves you don’t have to be wealthy to give to others.”

Part of the project features area notables who have joined students in their cause. Those include Columbus native and WTHR-TV weekend news anchor Nicole Pence, Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix and United Way President Mark Stewart.

United Way donations go chiefly to 29 local member agencies and programs serving or in some way touching the lives of about 25,000 of Bartholomew County’s 77,000 residents, according to United Way figures.

The irony of the 50 students’ effort lies in the fact that the teachers acknowledge that some of the students come from families helped in some way by United Way-funded programs, from mentoring to child care.

“At first, I thought it might be really boring,” fourth-grader Thomas Neeley said. “But it has turned out to be really fun.”

Classmate Alexa Day regularly paints at home, so she knew it would be enjoyable. She said she firmly believes their $1,000 fundraising goal is more than child’s play.

“We definitely can do it if we all work really hard,” she said.

Besides the art, the marketing is coming together. She has already invited a few people to the auction.

Diehn launched the idea near the beginning of the school year when she spoke with Jan Harris, United Way’s director of resource development. Diehn wanted to find a way for the students to help the cause.

They liked the idea of a fundraiser. But students hatched the idea of selling art, much of it inspired by social-media site Pinterest.

“Now the students know more than ever that they get the privilege of giving to others — while not expecting anything in return,” Diehn said.

Angie Huebel, director of the Volunteer Action Center at United Way, said she is impressed with the youngsters’ plan.

“This is not just about raising funds,” Huebel said. “This is about raising awareness (of United Way).”

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