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A worthy cause, cute kids, nifty craft items and delicious baked goods — those are the components of the third grade’s sea turtle gift shop, an annual fundraiser for the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island. This year’s sea turtle gift shop took place May 5 and raised nearly $2,700, a particularly impressive amount considering prices ranged from 25 cents for a chocolate chip cookie to five dollars for a sea turtle T-shirt.
It’s a quick turn-around for their profits. Third-graders will take their annual coastal studies trip Friday (weather permitting), and will proudly present a check when they visit the center — well known for rescuing, rehabilitating and returning injured Loggerhead and other Atlantic Ocean turtles to their ocean habitats.
Durham Academy third-graders have been studying sea turtles and raising money to help protect this endangered species for about 25 years. Third-grade teacher Richard Meyer estimates they have donated nearly $50,000, first to the sea turtle program at Bald Head Island and then the sea turtle center on Topsail Island.
Third-graders had been busily creating sea-turtle-themed craft items since September: bookmarks, bracelets, pins, clay magnets and more. Clay Meredith said the bead bracelets were the most fun to make, and classmate Miller Roessler added the bracelets were also the most difficult “because the beads kept coming off.”
Teachers bring their Preschool and Lower School students to shop at the store, and it’s a learning experience for both the buyers and the sellers. Student customers usually come with a couple of dollars in a Ziploc bag marked with their name. A Preschooler eyes a cookie that sells for 25 cents and hands over three dollars to pay for it.
“Let me get your change,” says the intent third-grader at the baked goods table. She hands back two of the dollars, stopping to explain, “You only need one of those,” then takes 75 cents from the cash box.
So what’s the best thing about the sea turtle gift shop?
“I like raising money to help sea turtles,” said third-grader Kera Warrell.
“I like selling things,” replied Joshua Pang, her partner at the sea turtle T-shirt table.