A Red Ribbon Week tradition took an unexpected turn for one student at Charles Evans Elementary.
Last week, students released balloons with cards attached, including their names, their school, and a pledge to stay drug free. Strangers are encouraged to pick up the cards and send back letters. This year, second grader Audryna Piggee’s card made it to a stranger who sent back $100 for the school to use in another Red Ribbon Week project or event.
“This was a great show of support,” David Jones, a second grade teacher, said. “Total strangers want these little ones to stay drug free.”  
Shannon Braaten, who lives near Howe, Texas, was the one who picked up Piggee’s card and sent the money with a letter encouraging her to study hard and stay drug free. The balloon made it from Ardmore to Braaten’s home in less than a day.  
Piggee, a second grader, said she’s still trying to decide what they should spend the money on.
“I was excited and kind of nervous at the same time,” Piggee said. “I was thinking about maybe doing a skating party, but we’re still thinking about it.”  
 The school has been holding the balloon release for the last four years, and keeps the returned cards in a display case near the front of the school. Jones said that this this year the cards that were returned mostly came from parts of Texas.
“They came back so fast,” Jones said. “This was within hours, and they were from down near Austin, south of Sherman, down toward Plano. They took off straight east, and somewhere, the current took them south.”
Jones said he expects more cards to come in as the week goes on.