11/26/15 Cans for Cancer

   Payton Rainey, Taylor Apple and Kerianne Croy, all 10, raised more than $600 for cancer research with their duct-tape crafts business at A-O Elementary School.Isaac Groves / Times-News

   Payton Rainey, Taylor Apple and Kerianne Croy, all 10, raised more than $600 for cancer research with their duct-tape crafts business at A-O Elementary School.


Cans for Cancer
Students donate proceeds from duct-taped pencil holders to Relay for Life
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 11/26/15  
Reprinted with permission.  

   Kerianne Cray, Taylor Apple and Payton Rainey have learned a lot about success.

   “It’s very hard,” Apple said, “but it’s worth it.”

   Or to put it another way:

   “It turned out to be a big deal,” Cray said. “And now we’re stuck.”

   The fifth-grade classmates at Altamahaw-Ossipee Elementary School have raised more than $600 for breast-cancer research with a small business they started at school called Cans 4 Cancer. It started when Cray made a pencil holder for the group she sat with in class made from a clean tin can with a strip of black tape along the lip to make it smooth. Apple liked it but thought it could be prettier, so they covered the cans with duct tape in different colors and patterns.

  Cray said she has a friend in Florida living with breast cancer, so she wanted to dedicate the proceeds of the business to doing something about it.

   “One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Relay for Life,” Rainey said.

   THEY SELL THE pencil holders for $1, and colorful duct-tape hair bows for 50 cents. They promoted their products with fliers around the school and mentions on the public address system during announcements, they said.

   “It went nuts, and we sold a lot,” Rainey said.

   Demand was much higher than they anticipated. They have been working two or three days a week — that’s on top of Cray performing in the school play, and Apple and Rainey playing softball, teacher Heather Boysel said.

   “They are busy little girls,” Boysel said.

   They also brought on employees — six classmates they interviewed, hired and trained to meet the backlog of orders they were soon facing.    They turned to the adults around them, too. Boysel helped them create the documents they needed to track orders and organize the operation. Erika Kennedy, another fifth-grade teacher who is also the school’s Relay for Life captain, helped handle the donations. And Cray’s mother sold some of their products at work and collected empty cans from coworkers.

   THEY LEARNED LESSONS about product selection and efficient production. In the accordion folder Cray carries with her, a couple of sheets are covered with duct tape samples — patterns like pink and blue whales, tie dye or pink polka dots.

   They cut the number of options along the way to simplify the operation and eliminate the less popular choices, like solid colors. They would pare them down even more if they had it to do over again, they said, just to simplify materials purchasing and keep the production chain clean.

   Apple said they might even narrow the customer pool to control demand and just market to one grade at a time, or just to girls and then to boys.

   At this point, they have more than 100 orders yet to fill. They are not taking more orders, but could use clean cans to fill the orders they have left.

   Boysel said she could take donations at the school, but check with her first. The main number is 336-538-6030.

   Boysel said they have met nearly all the demand at A-O Elementary, but there is interest from Highland Elementary, which could be a whole new chapter in their business education.

   “I told them they should be consultants,” Principal Donna King said.

   The girls are thinking about it.