Banding together

A local fourth grade student and her classmates at School 5 are making a difference with rubber bands. Madison Dissell, a student in Kyle Damon’s class, started a fundraiser which has spread throughout the community.

Madison started making rubber band loom bracelets to help fellow student, Yoneill Heredia, who has been diagnosed with cancer. She was inspired by School 5 teacher Kerry Hoffman who started an afterschool Crane Club. Students made over 1,000 paper Origami cranes to be sold. All crane proceeds benefit Yoneill, a School 5 first grader.

“I started (making bracelets) because it was a cool idea and I have a lot of rubber band bracelets. Another teacher was folding (paper) cranes,” Madison said.

Originally, Madison had a goal of making $5, which she surpassed in just one day. After a second goal of $50 was met in two days, a goal of $100 was set. Soon, the students raised hundreds of dollars in profit.

“Every goal we set for ourselves, we would crush it. Then we would set another goal and we’d crush that one,” Damon said.

The bracelets sell for 50 cents for a simple design or $1 for a more intricate fishtail design. Each bracelet is made by intertwining rubber bands, similar in size to small hair elastics, held together by a clasp. The bracelets are made with a loom kit, but Damon noted most students are now able to make the bracelets on their hands without the loom. Every one of Damon’s 24 students has been involved in the project in some way, including 16 students who have actively made the bracelets.

“There was a lot of student participation,” he said.

Damon gave credit to the students, especially Madison, for coming up with the idea. Once he was involved in the project, he oversaw it and collected money raised. The project did have educational value though; Damon was able to teach his students some basic business principles including products, supply and demand, and money reinvestment. According to Damon, his student teacher from SUNY Fredonia was buying and sending bracelets to people she knew around the state.

“It’s really cool that it started with one thing and spread across New York state,” Damon said.

The students even volunteered to sell bracelets during the charity basketball game, Dunkirk Dunks for Donations at the end of February. In total the class was able to raise over $786 by selling bracelets. The faculty and staff of School 4, the Dunkirk Police Department, the East Dunkirk Fire Department and SUNY Fredonia Virginia Horvath were among those who donated to the cause.

“It’s definitely the most meaningful and successful fundraiser I’ve been a part of,” said Damon. “It’s impressive that (a fundraiser) that started as a $5 goal turned into almost $800.”

With the proceeds, faculty at School 5 purchased furniture and delivered it to Yoneill’s home. Furniture included a bed, a couch, a computer desk, a recliner, lamps and a kitchen table. Bracelets and cranes are still available for purchase. Damon said bracelet orders can even be customized. To place an order, contact Damon at

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