City Springs students to be featured on Ellen DeGeneres' TV show after viral fundraising effort

After students at City Springs Elementary/Middle School raised $1,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief, the story of their generosity went viral.

People across the country said they were inspired by some of Baltimore’s poorest and youngest residents giving what they had to others. One of those people, it seems, was Ellen DeGeneres.

The City Springs students who organized the fundraiser will be featured Friday on her popular talk show, which airs at 4 p.m. locally, the students’ teacher said.

A sneak peak of the segment is available online here.

The video shows Ellen surprising an emotional Wyatt Oroke, the City Springs teacher who helped launch the fundraising effort. Oroke showed his eighth grade students photos of the destruction in Houston during the first week of school.

Students immediately asked him how they could help. Oroke said he “turned it to them and asked: ‘What do you want to do to help?’”

The students came up with a proposal and asked parents, teachers and fellow students for donations. Pre-kindergartners dug pennies out of their pockets, school officials recounted. Other students saved up allowances or donated the money they earned doing chores.

The school quickly exceeded its initial goal of $500. And since the students’ story picked up steam, the fundraiser has collected an additional $2,000.

“It’s oftentimes striking how we see those who have the least give the most,” Oroke previously told The Baltimore Sun. “I think it’s because they’ve seen that side of things, and have stronger empathy.”

During the video played on Ellen, City Springs students talk about their dreams to attend college and launch careers as veterinarians, doctors, contractors or photographers. Oroke says in the video that he sometimes can’t sleep at night, thinking about whether he’s done enough for his students. Oroke speaks passionately about the disproportionate access to opportunities facing Baltimore students.

“Teaching is an honor,” he said. “I know that my community here in Baltimore has given me the responsibility to educate their children.”

A group of City Springs students were broadcast into the show, and explain what their teacher means to them.

“Mr. O has my back and he’s always here,” said 13-year-old Chantelle Thomas.

At the end of the segment, the students are presented with a giant check for $25,000 from Shutterfly.

trichman@baltsun.com

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