When former Morenci resident Mary Jane (Borton) Dopp saw the plea for help in the Observer, the choice was obvious. She went with the music project.
Morenci Education Foundation president Bill Van Valkenburg let readers know a few weeks ago that funds for the Foundation's mini-grant program were thin this year because the source of cash ended when the group's annual golf tournament came to a halt.
He invited area residents to fill the funding gap by making donations, and he listed the requests for projects made by Morenci teachers.
"I just knew I needed to do something when I saw the story in the paper," Dopp said.
Her long-time interest in music led to a donation to Andi Rorick's class at the elementary school. Mrs. Rorick sought donations to buy a series of CDs that present a musical method of helping students memorize a variety of facts, such as counting by sixes, by sevens, by eights, etc., and learning to count the value of coins.
Think about the lyrics to a song that you know well, she said. It becomes second nature, and it can work the same way with information learned in school.
"They really respond well to music," she said. "It is so fun to see them apply what they learn through the song to get a math problem correct."
Mrs. Rorick said she was both surprised and appreciative to receive the donations.
"We are in an economic crunch and it is heart-warming to know people were willing to donate," she said. "My students and I wrote sincere thank you letters to all three women."
In addition to Dopp's donation, money came from two others with an interest in music: Morenci graduate Dolores (Sell) Wurst and Sybil Diccion. Diccion is the only one who lives in Morenci and arrangements were made for her to come to the class and listen to the kids perform. She also agreed to sing to them.
"When I told the kids that Mrs. Diccion would be coming to hear them sing and sing for them, you would have thought I told them they were going to Disney World," Mrs. Rorick said.
The visit took place last Thursday.
"They gave Sybil many sweet compliments and hugs," said Mrs. Rorick. "Hopefully the other two donors can come and visit sometime soon."
That sounds good to Dopp.
"They are great kids," she said. "I would love to meet them all some day."
"Our first effort was somewhat successful," said Bill Van Valkenburg. "Donations combined with resources we already had in our mini-grants fund made it possible to award all requests."
Two donors specified their gift to go toward Mrs. Kelly Bush's CD players and two others were combined to cover the cost of supplies for Mr. Dan Hoffman's Project Lead the Way engineering project at the middle school.
Another donor directed funds to Mrs. Natalie Zuvers's fourth grade science supplies request.
"I think the results were satisfactory enough that we will do this again," Bill said. "Our hope is to resurrect the golf tournament next summer, but because of the generosity of the Morenci community, we were able to cover all requests."
He's seeking grants from another foundation to cover the cost of three expensive requests for audio projection systems and an interactive whiteboard.
"It always feels good to be able to help teachers in their classrooms," he said. "I just wish we had more resources available so we could do more."
The Foundation recently received an anonymous $10,000 gift from a Morenci alumnus that was placed in the Morenci Schools Legacy Fund—now standing at $40,000. Interest earned from the fund will be used to address major projects or needs of the district, Van Valkenburg said.