The fun-loving students at Gilbert Intermediate aren't just wearing hats for the fun of it, even though many admitted it is a lot of fun. They did it to raise money they planned to donate to the Optimist Club for a flagpole in the Optimist-Jaycee Park.
Bradley Oglesby, a member of Erath County Veterans, volunteered to help the Optimist Club raise the money, and began spreading the word.
After the E-T ran a story about the effort, Oglesby said he expected the community to help, but what he didn't expect was the response he got from the school.
"These kids and their teachers organized a fundraiser and they collected change and dollar bills to pay for one whole flag by themselves," he said. "I was blown away by their donation."
Social studies teachers Dana Barnett and Amanda Stanfield helped organize the effort with the help of several students. They collected dollars from students who wanted to wear hats to school one Friday. In a single day, the students collected $162.
Community members took notice and on Friday, Mayor Kenny Weldon was on hand when the students handed over a check for more than $150 to Jay Kidwell with the Optimist Club.
"You helped this club put a flagpole at a park in town that didn't have one and that's really special," Weldon told the group. "Another thing I wanted to tell you is that you have contributed to your community in a very special way. For the rest of your life you're going to be able to drive by Optimist-Jaycee Park and see those flagpoles and know you helped put them there. So thank you for doing that. We need people like you who are willing to serve our community. That's how things get done."
The teachers said the students had been studying the flag and Frances Scott Key and thought it was the perfect opportunity to make that lesson a reality. The students who helped collect the money said they did it, not only because hats are fun, but because they wanted to help.
"I did it because it's fun to wear a hat at school," said Christian Martin. "But I also think it's cool that we get a plaque with our names on it out there, too."
Chloe Krause said she wanted to be a part of the fundraiser so she could give back to her community.
"That's just the way I was raised," she said. "To always be helpful to others."