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Students urged to ‘look out for the left out’

Students urged to ‘look out for the left out’
Students urged to ‘look out for the left out’
Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor. Ben Woods of New Albany talks to North Harrison Elementary School students Friday morning about how Norton Children’s Hospital cared for his daughter, Calla, prior to her death. The school has raised money for the hospital for the last 33 years.
By Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

For 33 years, students at North Harrison Elementary School have been raising money to assist Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

“That’s older than some of your teachers,” Principal Kent Rentschler told the entire student body who had gathered in the gymnasium for a program Friday morning. “If your parents went to this school, then it’s likely your parents did this fundraiser, too.”

To date, North Harrison Elementary has donated more than $500,000 to Norton.

“That’s lot of money,” Scarlett Shine, foundation coordinator for Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, told the students. “You’ve been a wonderful partner.”

Past dollars raised have been designation to specific areas such as the emergency room and the bone marrow transplant unit. A few years ago, the money assisted with the purchase of a facility dog named Rosa.

Shine told the students how the hospital cares for children with minor “boo-boos” to more serious matters resulting in the need for long-term care.

In determining where they wish their donation to go each year, NHES has a guest speaker come talk about their personal experience with Norton Children’s Hospital.

Ben and Crystal Woods, who moved to New Albany in 2012 from Champaign, Ill., and have been married for 20 years and are the parents of three “remarkable” children, were selected to share their story.

Ben Woods, sporting a T-shirt that read Look Out for the Left Out, told how his daughter, Calla, at the age of 9, wanted to go to a “little village on the other side of the planet,” in Romania, “to help kids like you who are living in hard, hard places.”

So, to help fund a trip, Calla started her own slim shop, selling the gooey product online.

However, in May of 2019, Woods said the couple’s “sweet Calla” became sick and had to go to the hospital. He said a lot of tests were done while Calla was in the emergency room at Norton. She was later admitted to the hospital. After 18 weeks from the time she became ill, Calla went to heaven, Woods said.

(Crystal’s mother said Calla died from a rare, aggressive brain cancer.)

Calla’s father told how his daughter “chose to do this thing that changes everybody else’s life” and that the students, too, can “absolutely change the world.”

Woods said he was “inspired” by the students’ continuing fund-raising efforts.

Still today, the Woods family, which includes 14-year-old Ezra and 7-year-old Lilah, and friends continue to use Calla’s recipe to make slim to sell.

Calla’s mother said later that Calla’s friends find the process therapeutic.

“It’s still her recipe,” she said, adding that she and Calla had designed the online business and the logo together.

Ben Woods said the slime has been purchased in 43 states and six countries with more than $115,000 raised “so a facility can be built in that village in Romania.”

The facility will be named Casa Calla.

“Keep looking out for the left out,” Woods concluded.

More information about Calla can be found online at

Students are spending this week fundraising then will be off a week for spring break. When they return, they will continue to raise funds for another week. The annual walk-a-thon will take place April 14.

Students who raise at least $100 will get to go to Slugger Field in Louisville for a day of fun-filled activities in May.

Rentschler told the students they could be creative in their fund-raising efforts, suggesting they could have a yard sale in addition to asking family and friends for donations.

At school, they can purchase popcorn and lemonade as snacks during the two-week fund-raising period and there will be “extra” days for participation in other events.

Last year, NHES raised just less than $10,000, which Rentschler said was pretty good considering COVID-19 was a factor.

“Our new goal is $20,000,” he said. “We hope to blow this way out of the water.”