My daughter, Amy, is a 4th year student and has attended Three Rivers Montessori School since kindergarten. Every month, the elementary students engage in a different service project. In October, the school celebrated Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the elementary class decided to raise money for our local Buddy Walk', which is sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana (DSANI). Amy's teacher, Jennifer Darmogray, organized a school-wide salsa sale and the school sold $1 footprints for students to sign and post around the school's halls. Our family has always felt embraced by the school's staff and families, but last year we were overwhelmed by their outpouring of support. To prepare for the sale, Three Rivers' families donated tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers and jars for canning. Then, with the help of parents and teachers, the elementary and kindergarten students chopped and mixed ingredients to create the salsa. The class made salsa because it is Amy's favorite snack and something the students could easily make. The students made flyers and signs to promote the sale and waved the signs, took pre-orders and sold jars in the school's car pool line. Selling the footprints provided another way for everyone at school to become involved and visibly show support. The elementary class also participated on Amy's Buddy Walk® fundraising team, Amy's Village. We chose the name Amy's Village because we believe that it really does take a village to raise a child. Three Rivers Montessori uses a family-centered educational approach, and our entire family feels the school community's support and acceptance and that sense of belonging to a village. Between the footprint and salsa sales, Three Rivers Montessori School raised $600, which the Elementary students presented to me on behalf of DSANI in a special ceremony the day before the Buddy Walk'. I felt like a sweepstakes winner! Despite the threat of rain and very chilly weather at the Buddy Walk®, our hearts were warmed. We were joined by almost all of Amy's classmates and their families, along with several school staff and other friends, about 40 people! We had "Amy's Village" buttons made with Amy's picture, which Amy proudly gave everyone to wear. All told, Amy's Village raised an amazing $3,800 and her team was the 2nd place fundraising team for DSANI! The Buddy Walk® is such a wonderful opportunity to celebrate people with Down syndrome. It was meaningful for us to share that experience with our school family.