On his first day of school at Gemini Junior High, DJ Irizarry’s music appreciation teacher asked her students to bring in old keyboards they had at home and weren’t using anymore, with their parent’s permission. Phyllis Achille said there weren’t enough in the classroom to go around, and she had been going to thrift stores or garage sales, trying to track them down.

DJ, who is 12 years old and lives in Glenview, wanted to know whether she was spending her own money. When she said yes, he immediately wanted to help. He went home that day and told his mother they had to buy a keyboard for Miss Achille.

Through DJ’s efforts, what began as a request to buy one keyboard has inspired a surprise donation of keyboards to Achille’s classroom from Glenview State Bank, as well as $500 in community donations.

“I wanted to raise money for her because I thought it wasn’t fair that she was taking money out of her own paycheck,” says DJ.

At First, DJ Felt ‘Too Little to Help’

When DJ told his mother he wanted to buy a keyboard after his first day of school, she asked if he thought that would make the impact Achille needed.

“He said, ‘Can we buy more?’” recalls Marilyn Irizarry. DJ asked his mother to put out a request for keyboard donations on her Facebook page, but few people responded.

“Every day for a week he would come home and check his Facebook page,” says Marilyn. “One day he was like, ‘Mom, I’m too little to make a difference.”

The next day, while DJ was at school, Marilyn did a Google search for “ways to fundraise online.” The website GoFundMe was the first thing that came up, so Marilyn took a photo of DJ holding a sign that said “Help Miss Achille!” and set up a donation page there. She e-mailed the link to every principal in District 63, and Glenview Patch posted a story about DJ’s cause.

Glenview State Bank vice president David Kreiman found out about the need for keyboards after he read the story on Patch. He was motivated by DJ’s passion for helping his teacher.

“It was the fact that it was a young man, a junior high kid that wanted to do something nice for his teacher,” Kreiman said. “That in itself appealed to me.”

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