When East Meadow High School Spanish teacher Rebecca Saltzman took over as adviser of the Spanish Honor Society this school year, she had a fundraising idea in mind to show her students the importance of raising money for others.
The Pulsera Project is a nonprofit organization that connects artists from Guatemala and Nicaragua with schools in the United States. The artists create pulseras — bracelet in Spanish — with colorful threads. The organization hires the artists, and the bracelets are sent to participating American schools, whose students sell them. All the money is sent back to the Guatemalan and Nicaraguan communities, where they then get fair wages.
According to the Pulsera Project website, over $5 million has been raised through the project, and has been used to create jobs and educate Central Americans.
“I wanted to give the students an opportunity to raise money for other people and not necessarily have to do a fundraiser to raise money for ourselves,” Saltzman said. “I just thought it would be a good experience to have the students be able to give back to the Hispanic community.”
Saltzman found the organization online, and was waiting for an opportunity to introduce it to the students. “I figured that since this is the first year I’m advising the Spanish Honor Society, why not do this fundraiser where you’re giving back to the Hispanic community?” she said. “It just made sense for the Honor Society.”
The society had-n’t really done a fundraiser before, and the students thought this one was a great idea.
“I thought it was really cool,” Samantha Flores, an EMHS senior, and member of the Spanish Honor Society board, said. “When we first started talking about activities that we were going to do throughout the year, (Saltzman) brought it up and I was like, ‘oh my God, this is a perfect opportunity.’”
Flores said that the website was very informative, and that the fundraiser was easy to set up.
“I thought it was really exciting to be a part of because I’ve never done anything like this before,” senior board member Olivia Levy said. “In other honor societies we don’t really raise money for other people, it’s mostly for the club, so this was nice to give back to people.”
Saltzman filled out a form online telling the Pulsera Project that they wanted to participate. From there, the organization sent a poster board — that travels from school to school — along with a box of bracelets. The amount of bracelets you get depends of the size of the school.
From Feb. 28 to March 3, students manned a table in the school’s lobby throughout the day selling as many bracelets as they could.
“The organization was amazing to work with,” Saltzman said. “We set it up for four days in the main lobby and it was incredibly successful, like way way beyond our expectations.”
Each bracelet was $7, and came with a small tag showing its creator. The Honor Society wound up selling 290 out of the 500 bracelets. They made $2,136 for the organization.
“What we made in the first day of sales, was what I thought we were going to make total,” Flores said. “When (Saltzman) sent in the chat how much we made at the end, I was astonished and in shock.”
Flores and Levy were there every day to help check on the sales.
“It was my idea, but I didn’t do anything once the sale started,” Saltzman said. “It was all the students that worked the entire day getting their friends, calling over their teachers, so it was really all of them that did it.”
Saltzman herself bought about five bracelets, and Flores and Levy purchased some as well. “Each day when I would take out more bracelets to add new ones, I would see another one I had to have,” Saltzman said.
“The colors were just so vibrant and pretty,” Flores added. “They’re perfect for summer.”
Both Flores and Levy said that whenever they told their peers or teachers about the project, that their reactions were very supportive.
“They thought it was an amazing cause as well,” Flores said. “They asked us what it was and where the money’s going towards. When we told them that nothing came back to us and it was all back to them, they wanted to buy more.”