St. Hilary student marks birthday with good deeds
By Kathleen Folkerth
FAIRLAWN — Dozens of Akron schoolchildren don’t have to worry about having the right school supplies thanks to the efforts of one local girl and her St. Hilary classmates.
Carly Chelovitz, 10, of Bath, celebrated her birthday July 29 with a party for all the school’s fifth-graders. Instead of gifts for her, Carly asked that partygoers bring school supplies for her to donate to Pfeiffer Elementary School in Kenmore.
This isn’t the first time the birthday girl has collected items for the school. Carly, the daughter of Bath residents Annie Laurie and Chris Chelovitz, has been requesting supplies for the school’s students in lieu of gifts since her sixth birthday, she said. “We had heard about how some kids didn’t have school supplies,” Carly said about the first year of her effort. “I thought how it would feel to not have a box of crayons to start school with.”
Annie Laurie Chelovitz said she thinks Carly was inspired by a project she saw her mother help with when they lived in Maryland. Chelovitz said the Junior League there coordinated a donation of backpacks filled with school supplies.
When the time came to plan Carly’s sixth birthday, her mother told her she could have three or four friends for a small party, but if she wanted to invite more they would request no gifts. Carly instead suggested they collect items to donate, and the project was born.
Chelovitz called the office of Akron Public Schools Superintendent Sylvester Small to find a school that could use the supplies. According to Pfeiffer kindergarten teacher Ranay Hatherill, the principal from Pfeiffer heard about the project during a meeting and offered to take the supplies for students in need.
“It was going to be just a one-time thing,” Carly said.
But for the next three years she continued to have small parties with girlfriends and they brought backpacks, glue sticks and rulers instead of presents for Carly.
This year, to celebrate her milestone 10th birthday, Carly decided to invite her entire class — 77 students, according to her mother — to a party held at Bath Community Park. About 60 children attended, and the family was overwhelmed by their generosity, Chelovitz said.
“We got 70 backpacks, and the entire back of my Sequoia was filled,” Chelovitz said. “It took two trucks to take stuff home.”
Hatherill coordinates the donation for the school. She said this year’s collection was overwhelming.
“We had over 60 book bags donated, and they were full,” she said. “We stopped counting school supplies at 600 — there were scissors to glue sticks and pencils.”
Every teacher received two backpacks full of supplies, and then any Pfeiffer student who needed a backpack received the remainder.
The classes started the school year with a stockpile of supplies so that no student will go without school necessities, Hatherill said. The teacher said the school is very thankful to Carly and her classmates.
“She is unbelievable,” Hatherill said. “All those parents and kids in her class deserve a big thanks.”
Carly said she has done the project all these years because she enjoys it.
“It felt good to give a bunch of things instead of getting a bunch of presents,” she said.
Her parents told her that this year’s party was her last big one, so now she isn’t sure what she’ll do in future years. She said she might undertake some fund-raising activities to keep up her good works.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to keep doing it,” she said.
St. Hilary School fifth-grader Carly Chelovitz is shown with some of the school supplies she collected thanks to the generosity of her classmates. This year was the fifth time Carly celebrated her birthday by donating items to Pfeiffer Elementary School in Kenmore.
Photo courtesy of St. Hilary School