Mason Stred is interviewed by Channel 6 on about the art fundraiser.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An effort to raise $500 for a local cancer support group has brought in five times that much, largely thanks to an outpouring of support and the sales pitch from some of the area's youngest residents.
Rainbow Rocks, a fundraiser organized by parent Jaycee Stred, brought children and parents together to paint colorful rainbows on rocks. On Sunday at Lickety Split, they presented PopCares with a check and cash for $2,500.
The best part of the activity was "to sell them to people with cancer," said Mason, Stred's 7-year-old son, between licks of a celebratory ice cream cone. "I told people it was only $1 and almost everybody I asked bought some."
Stred said she was inspired by Mason's previous participation in a fundraiser in his second-grade class at Clarksburg School that raised more than $400 for Berkshire Food Project.
"He had such a good feeling about raising money that I was like how can I capitalize on that? Just looking at how to get kids involved in the community and fundraising," she said. "I stumbled upon the Rainbow Rocks project and thought this looks fun and easy for the kids to get involved in."
The idea came from a girl in California who'd posted her Rainbow Rocks on Pinterest. Stred put out an all-call on Facebook to see who might be interested and was so overwhelmed by the response, she knew she had to do it.
A painting event was set up at Greylock Community Club in February with rocks donated by Paul Nichols of Nichols Sand & Gravel in Dalton and paint donated by Neathawk Designs. Papa John's provided pizza and more offered money or supplies to keep them going and Lickety Split the ice cream for Sunday's event.
"They painted rainbows on rocks and there's a little message on it that says "here's a rock from me to you that spreads happiness and kindness, too," said Stred.
She estimated at least 25 kids participated and maybe double that were selling them. The demand was so high, they'd met their $500 goal by the time of the painting party.
"There was a lot of outpouring of support. It's just a great thing for the kids because the rocks are spreading kindness and cheer and they're doing a great thing donating money to charity."
The effort was capped off with the presentation to Bob St. Pierre of PopCares, which included the rainbow-mohawked Mason reading a letter he wrote (with help from his mom) about the fundraiser.
"We would like to thank PopCares for what you do for local people and their families who are battling cancer," read Mason, surrounded by the children who participated, including his sister, Remee. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
St. Pierre thanked them back, saying "you're going to make people who are sick feel better." His sister, Cindy Noel, presented the children with certificates of appreciation.
PopCares was established by the family of the late William "Pop" St. Pierre, who died of cancer in 2012. The nonprofit raises funds to provided families struggling with cancer financial support when they most need it.
"We love when kids help us. People are really inspired when kids step up to do things like this," St. Pierre said. "It's really amazing, we're blessed to have such a great community. People really rally around each other."
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