PENDLETON — When an Indianapolis charter school teacher learned transportation funding fell through for a field trip to a Pendleton farm, the generosity of local residents kicked in and saved the day, she said.

Carri Boots O’Donnell, who teaches at Carpe Diem Innovative Schools-

Northwest in Indianapolis, said she had planned an outing to Smith Family Farms in Pendleton for a recent Monday.

She had arranged to take more than 100 city students to the rural venue to show them some of the things she did as a child in Pendleton.

At the school, “most kids have never been to a pumpkin patch,” said Boots O’Donnell, who graduated from Pendleton Heights High School in 1986. “These guys are all teenagers, and they’ve never been to a pumpkin patch.”

But, on the Wednesday before the outing, it looked like that trip might not happen; funding for busing fell through.

That’s when the power of social media kicked in; Boots O’Donnell told a friend what was happening, and that friend told her she had to start a gofundme page.

The friend told her, “We’re going to get you guys there,” Boots O’Donnell said.

Right she was.

In less than a day, the trip was back on, courtesy of the online fundraising effort.

“The residents of Pendleton, mostly Pendleton, came together and in 12 hours raised over $1,300 to pay for bus transportation from the northwest side of Indianapolis to Pendleton; so I can bring my students, so they can have a little bit of fall fun that I had when I was a kid growing up,” Boots O’Donnell said.

Many people making those donations had many well-wishes for Boots O’Donnell and her students.

“Welcome to the farm, friends!” Sally and Stella Schellenberger wrote.

“Carri, you are God’s gift to your students,” Mary Lyman posted. “Thank you for making a difference in their lives.”

“Good luck, Carri. You are making a difference in the lives of these children,” Laura Ketterman wrote.

Boots O’Donnell said the trip was a lot of fun and noted that the children marveled at the different animals. On the bus trip back they “held their pumpkins in their laps like they were gold.”

She said the outpouring of generosity is something she thought people ought to know about because it reflects so well on her hometown, where she said she served as the Arabian mascot while in high school.

“I wanted to share this story … of how grateful I am for everybody in Pendleton that kind of pulled together to bring these inner-city kids who’ve never seen a cow up close or even a farm field.”


“As an inner-city teacher, at Carpe Diem Northwest …to the most extraordinary group of students …I want to show them the wonder of smalltown Indiana in the fall. I grew up in Pendleton and would love the opportunity to take these great kids to Smith Family Farms. Fall is about pumpkin picking, hay rides, beautiful trees and being out on the farm. Jennifer Smith was kind to waive the field trip fees, but I still need to cover bus rental fees from Northwest Indianapolis to pretty little Pendleton.”

Source: Carri Boots O’Donnell’s gofundme page