Sep 252008
Authors: Shari Blackman

Kids in an after-school club at O’Dea Elementary have a goal of donating $1,800 a year to CSU athletics. They meet that goal by selling homemade pins at CSU sporting events. At 15 cents each, that’s a lot of pins.

Fourteen years ago, O’Dea Elementary teacher Russ Fulton started the after-school program “Rams Club” to promote spirit for CSU athletics. O’Dea students pay $5 annually to participate in the club, and they make pins that promote CSU volleyball and basketball. In exchange, the CSU athletic department donates event tickets to the kids, who sell their pins to spectators before each game.

“It’s been a great partnership,” said Fulton, who is now seven years retired from O’Dea.

Last week at a women’s volleyball game in Moby Arena, identical twins Amanda and Brittany Melber stood near a ticket taker with their pins plastered to Rams Club signs.

“Rams pins, 15 cents — buy one and the Rams are sure to win,” they repeatedly chanted in unison.

Fulton bought a pin from the 11-year-old twins, who were unaware that they were selling to the club’s founder.

Dan Johnston, CSU Athletic Department Ram Club Fund director, said the elementary school takes charge of the program, donating up to $2,000 a year to general athletic scholarship funds. He described the long-running program as a success and said the kids learn people skills and to give back to the community.

“It teaches them a philanthropic view of life,” Johnston said.

The pins are made from paperboard and colored with markers. Pieces of masking tape serve as fasteners.

O’Dea teacher-advisor for the club Gary Cale said that the kids who make the most pins during the week get first shot at the free game tickets.

Sixth grader Riley Carpenter has been making pins after school in the Rams Club for five years. He said he likes getting into the games free, but selling was easier when he was younger. People tend to buy pins from the littler kids since they’re cute, Riley said.

Staff writer Shari Blackman can be reached at

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