WHITMAN — It all started with a simple question.
As 8-year-old Conley Elementary School second-grader Grace Hughes watched television news coverage of Boston Marathon preparations — and the trial of marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — she asked herself what she could do to help the bombing victims.
“I felt really bad for the people that got hurt that day,” Grace said.
A fan of making loom bracelets, she opted to make some to sell for $1 each at her school.
“She wanted to donate clothing or something like that,” her mom Danielle Hughes said. “I said ‘They don’t really need that right now, what they need is money to help them get back on their feet.’ She said she could raise money by making bracelets and I thought that was a great idea.”
“And she got tons of money … and I helped,” piped in her little brother Nick, 5. He helped Grace make some of the 95 bracelets she turned out. With her class helping, her goal was 100 bracelets.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to get past that many,” Grace said.
They had raised $250 prior to the school sale through purchases made be friends and family.
“I had posted on Facebook how excited and proud of her I was,” Danielle said. “We were very surprised it was something Grace wanted to do.”
Where the money would go was an important consideration. One Fund Boston was no longer accepting donations, so they looked at other options and found The Martin Richard Charitable Foundation, which honors the 8-year-old bombing victim’s message of peace by investing in education, athletics and community.
Grace felt kinship with the boy who was her age in 2013.
The next step was getting permission from the school to conduct the sale. Since Principal Karen Downey’s sister in-law runs the marathon, it wasn’t a hard sell.
“I tried to look for her on the news, but I didn’t see her,” Danielle said.
On Friday, April 17, Grace gave a presentation on her project in front of the entire class on what she was planning.
“The day before I was nervous, but that day I wasn’t,” she said with a giggle. “My class decided to help me out making the bracelets.”
Danielle said they were excited to see how many bracelets they end up with.
Grace’s teacher Kerri Doherty has been an enthusiastic booster of the project.
“She’s really been quite an inspiration to all of us,” Doherty said Monday. “She had shared with the class during our morning meeting what she was going to do and they all immediately wanted to know how they could help.”
One student alone made more than 100 bracelets over April vacation, Doherty said, adding that other teachers at Conley have told her they have students who want to help, too.
“It’s really exciting — she’s really a special girl,” Doherty said.