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Nashville 2nd-graders raise $30k for Covenant therapy dog

Little Girl making Bead bracelets

New Africa | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 06/02/23

Two Catholic elementry school students have raised more than $30,000 in an effort to help their peers at The Covenant School begin to heal.

A pair of second-grade students from Overbrook Catholic school in Nashville are working hard to support their peers at The Covenant School, where a deadly shooting killed six people, including three 9-year-old students, on March 27. The two elementary school girls have been making thousands of bracelets, which they are selling to raise funds for The Covenant School to receive a full-time therapy dog.

According to a report from The Catholic Spirit, Evelyn Thallemer and Matilda Crosswy have shared a love of “crafty things” for as long as they can remember. The pair struck up a fast friendship during a play-date where they made friendship bracelets, and they’ve been making them ever since. The two even identified their craft work as a possible career path, dreaming of opening a business to sell their wares, even at such a young age.

When the deadly shooting occurred at a school in their community, however, the two immediately knew that they could put their crafts to use for a bigger cause. Evelyn and Matilda began making bracelets in earnest, even inviting their other friends to join in, with the plans to sell them and raise money for The Covenant School. The girls had spent time with a therapy dog in their own school and they thought a dog could help Covenant students begin to heal:

“I think it’s important that they get that extra love and attention when they need it” from a therapy dog, Evelyn told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

“I like when therapy dogs come to our school because they just make you happy,” Matilda added. “They’re trained to protect us, so with the things that happened at Covenant, we thought it’d be nice for them to have.”

The two best friends took their idea to Overbrook’s school counselor, Anh Kohls, who loved the plan, and they were off to the races. According to the report, they have already made some 2,500 bracelets, in sizes for adults and kids. Each bracelet bears six red heart beads to commemorate the six people who lost their lives in the shooting.

The show of support for their project, which they have dubbed “Nashville Busy Beads,” has been far greater than ever expected. After a few social media posts, they got the attention of local news outlet WKRN, which featured their story on “Good Morning Nashville.” Since then, they can’t keep up with demand for their hand-crafted bracelets, blowing past their initial goal of $17,000 – the cost of a trained therapy dog – to have raised $30,500. Matilda said the remaining $13,500 will be gifted to The Covenant School to do with as they wish.

Jennifer Rafoth, the girls’ second-grade teacher, expressed her pride in the initiative of her students, noting that the efforts of Matilda and Evelyn have had a positive effect on the girls themselves as well as the community. She explained that Matilda and Evelyn were especially anxious after the shooting, but putting their energy towards helping others has shifted their focus from their own anxieties to helping as many of their peers as they can.

“It was just a really beautiful thing to see that they would do that, and then to see the change in the kids from doing it,” added Jennifer Rafoth

Read more at The Catholic Spirit.

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