Interpersonal Relationships students present the check for the First United Methodist Church soup kitchen. Pictured are Marilyn Bowers, Rhonda Alstott and students Justine Thompson and Lindsey Dickerson.
When the Northview students in Joanna Connors' first-period Interpersonal Relationships class were asked to raise money for a service project, Connors had an annoying idea for a fundraiser.
Connors told the students she had seen a segment on the Today Show about a group that played an annoying song to raise funds for victims of hurricane Katrina. The premise: the music was so grating that people would donate money in the interest of having it turned off.
The students ultimately met their $500 goal early, and they have a particularly annoying hamster to thank for it.
The students, who had chosen the soup kitchen at the First United Methodist Church in Brazil as their charity, liked the idea. They also selected a song: one of the "hamster songs" that float around the internet, characterized by nonsense lyrics and the sickeningly cheery and high-pitched voice of what sounds like a deranged hamster.
Sophomore Abbey Birksey, one of the members of Connors' class, said they knew immediately the song would suit their purposes.
"We listened to it and we said, 'Yeah, it's definitely annoying,'" she said.
It worked better than they had anticipated. Class members planned to play the song on a constant loop throughout the school's lunch periods on Nov. 21-23. Connors said some of the students enjoyed the song at first, but it began to take its desired effect before long.
"At first the kids liked the song," she said. "By the second day they were asking if we could turn it off."
Birksey said some students got up and started dancing when they first heard the song. Before long, though, they began making donations, and the students met their goal of $500 in donations by the time lunches ended on the second day of their drive.
Senior Justine Thompson said she was glad the fundraiser was so well received, noting the soup kitchen as something important to her fellow community members.
"We chose the soup kitchen because it was something local that would give back directly to the community," she said.
Ultimately, Birksey credits the hamster for the success of their fund drive.
"The song wasn't exactly enjoyable to listen to," she said. "That helped us out a lot!"