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People Are Awesome: Fifth Grader Donates $300 Life Savings to Stop Teacher Layoffs

Elementary school student Jocelyn Lam emptied her piggy bank to save pink slipped teachers. Now she's inspired an entire community to do the same.


Thanks to draconian budget cuts, thousands of layoff notices have been delivered to teacher mailboxes nationwide over the past few weeks. But, after notices went home about pink slips handed out in the Arcadia Unified School District, Jocelyn Lam, a fifth grade student at Camino Grove Elementary decided there was something she could do to save her school's teachers: she emptied her piggy bank.

Last Friday, Lam gave her teacher an envelope full of $1, $5, and $10 bills totaling $300—money she'd earned over several years for doing chores and getting good grades. She also included a handwritten letter addressed to the Arcadia Unified school board and superintendent, saying, "I really hope this $300 will help save the teachers that are about to be laid off. I also hope this is enough to save more than one teacher." Her donation was completely unsolicited and took the school staff by surprise.


Of course, the $300 isn't nearly enough to save even one teaching position, but Lam's selflessness has catalyzed the community into action. Since her inspiring letter, the students and parents at Camino Grove have raised $20,000 toward saving teaching jobs and the fund raising has gone district-wide. The effort has gone a long way toward letting the teachers and school staff know how much the community cares. Lam's principal, Dr. Brook Reynolds told Arcadia Patch that he's proud of the students and how they're trying to save the teachers, "because they actually value what the teachers are doing for them." As for Lam, she plans to do more chores—so she can make more money to save additional teaching jobs.

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