There was a price to be paid for Alberto Jimenez to wear his sombrero to Eagle Valley Middle School on Friday, and the 11-year-old sixth grader gladly paid it.
"I just like this hat," he said. "I got it last year at Cinco de Mayo."
But that wasn't the only reason he was willing to shell out.
The money he gave, along with dues collected from other students to don their favorite headwear for a day, will go to Hurricane Katrina Relief through the American Red Cross.
The cost was $1, but students could donate more.
"I put in $27," Alberto said sitting down at a lunch table. "Most of it was in fives. I asked my uncles for donations this morning."
He and many of his classmates are well-versed in the details of what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Every morning they watch a 12-minute broadcasts from news Channel One, a Peabody Award winning station geared toward students.
"If we were caught in the Hurricane, I would want somebody to help us," said Sarah Hernandez, 11, who sat across the table from Alberto. "So many families are gone and their houses are gone. They need clothing and they need shelter."
"If it was like that here," said her friend Miranda Peragallo, 10, "we would be swimming and our tables would be floating."
The hat idea was a natural fit for Eagle Valley Middle School, which usually raises money for events, like Science Olympiad or Destination Imagination, by allowing students to wear them to school.
"We had students voice their concerns for the people Katrina affected," said sixth-grade teacher Mary Wertjes. "The staff decided we wanted to do something and our students really wanted to be involved."
And Friday, baseball caps, knit caps and alligator hats were atop students' heads. Mary Novak, 11, wore a lobster hat.
"My parents have had (the hat) for a long time," she said. "I wear it every hat day. I gave $5 to wear it today."
That money came from her allowance. And although she usually sets a some aside for savings, she didn't mind donating for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
"We're doing this because lots of people are suffering," she said. "I've watched the news on Channel One. It's totally sad."
About $675 was raised Friday.
"It was a very successful effort," said Principal Ferd Mariani. "We may up end doing another one down the road."
-- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.