About 575 students from East Peoria’s Central Junior High School will spend a Saturday in October performing various odd jobs around East Peoria in the school’s inaugural Help-a-Thon. Weather permitting, the Help-a-Thon will take place Oct. 3. In the event of inclement weather, the Help-a-Thon will take place on an alternate date of Oct. 10. The school’s parent organization, the Blue and Gold, planned the Help-a-Thon for this year as a departure from past fundraising activities. Volunteers for the Help-a-Thon will take on projects at nursing homes, schools in the area, the East Peoria Police and Fire Departments, and 10 different East Peoria parks.

“In the past, we’ve had various types of sales,” said Blue and Gold fundraising advisor Jennifer Huff of East Peoria. “This year, we decided on a day of community service. About 40 teachers and six Blue and Gold members will chaperone the students while they work around East Peoria for donation pledges. The money they raise will go to the Blue and Gold, who will use it to help the school.”

“We sold cookie dough and magazines in previous years, and we found ourselves in competition for other schools and local sports programs who were doing the same thing,” said principal Dustin Schrank of Washington Central Junior High School. “So, we decided to do something different, and we thought it would be a good idea to get our students involved in some type of community service project before they left junior high.”

Following last year’s autumn fundraiser, the Blue and Gold bought the school a new stage curtain for its spring play and Chromebook computers, as well as providing funds for field trips and clothing for needy students. 

“Ideally, I am hoping we can raise between $10,000 and $15,000 in pledges this year,” said Schrank. “Some of the ways we could spend this year’s funds are on additional Chromebooks, teacher grants for curriculum needs within the classroom, and possibly a digital marquee for the front of the school.”

Central Junior High School students have already begun collecting pledges, according to Huff, and one student raised $150 in a single day. Help-a-Thon volunteers will be easy to spot because they will all be wearing distinctive neon T-shirts sporting a student-designed Help-a-Thon logo. Submissions for logo ideas will end Sept. 1, and the six-person Blue and Gold board will decide on the willing entry the following week.