WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Eighth graders at Jewett School of the Arts in Winter Haven are working to improve the lives of Syrian refugees. On Friday, they had a packing party where they filled up 50 backpacks with hygiene products and school supplies which will be sent to refugee children. 

  • Students collaborating with World Vision
  • "Legacy Project" meant to teach philanthropy
  • Students raised funds to purchase supplies

"They were recently just bombed and it's a lot of people that decided to flee because of the things that's going on like violence,” said Demetria Jordan, one of the students who helped select the project idea.

The students are collaborating with the Christian Humanitarian organization World Vision on the project.

"It makes me feel good, because not everybody has what they need,” said Emma Murrell, one of three students who led the project.

It was their teacher Sonya Barnes' idea to do this “legacy project.” She wanted to teach them about philanthropy.

"I had this vision for awhile that I just wanted to pass onto the kids about giving back to the world and the community,” said Barnes.

After students met with her and decided which project they wanted to work on, they spent four months fundraising to purchase the supplies.  

"They were tough, because sometimes it was like, we didn't have enough money, or nobody decided to donate because they really weren't that informed about it until we started posting fliers and making chalk signs for the children to see,” said Jordan.

The students ended up raising $1,200. Seeing her students follow through on her vision almost brought Barnes to tears.

"I tell them from day one, you are all my surrogate children, you'll forever be mine. So a very proud mom so to speak, right now,” said Barnes.

The students will ship the backpacks to World Vision on April 23.

Barnes said she hopes to make this an annual project where eighth graders work together on a community project of their choice.