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Coloring for cancer: Eagle Ridge Middle School raises thousands of dollars for St. Jude

Jennifer Baxter holds the Eagle Ridge Middle School Coloring Book, completely designed by students. Proceeds of the books will go to St. Jude. Courtesy Photo
After teaching in Loudoun County Public Schools for eight years, Eagle Ridge Middle School art teacher Jennifer Baxter wanted to do something different. For her ninth year teaching, she wanted to show her eighth graders how art can help people.

“Using art to do good outside the bubble of Ashburn, Virginia -- that idea, I think, is important for kids that are 13 and 14,” Baxter said.

Over the summer, when she saw adult coloring books at a Hobby Lobby, it dawned on her that designing coloring book pages would be a perfect way to teach contour drawing, foreground and background.

From there, the idea to create a coloring book to sell and donate the proceeds was born. Little did she know that she and her 133 students would go on to raise almost $3,000 for children with cancer.

“It has been so successful,” Baxter said. “I’ve never done anything like this, I don’t know anyone who’s done anything like this, so I had no idea what to expect.”

Students chose everything, including their page design, who would design the cover, how much the books would cost and which charity would receive the proceeds of the book. Baxter presented the students with different choices and 100 of the 133 students voted for St. Jude.

Baxter organized a crowd-funding campaign to raise the printing costs so that 100 percent of the proceeds would go to St. Jude. Then, she printed and bound the books at Rust Library in Leesburg.

The books sold out in a week and a half, Baxter said, and are on the second reprint. The eighth grade art classes have sold over 200 copies.

“They are just excited to have raised that amount of money. Over $3,000, to a kid -- that sounds like a whole lot of money,” Baxter said.

She said that not only were students excited about raising the money, but also at the popularity of the books among peers and staff members.

“Something that they were a part of and something that they designed is sought after by other people,” Baxter said. “That specific feeling when you create art, when someone actually wants to buy it, that’s unique."

In addition to sending the money to St. Jude, the group is also sending 50 copies of the coloring books and coloring supplies.

The books are still for sale through the Eagle Ridge website. Community members interested in purchasing a book can do so online and pick the book up at the school. The books will be on sale through the rest of the semester ending on Dec. 18.

Baxter hopes to repeat the project next year as a special eighth-grade project.

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