Bright Future: Changing the worldPublished 12:01am Thursday, January 17, 2013
NATCHEZ — The thought of seeing a needy family in a third-world country drinking and using clean water made the faces of a group of Trinity Episcopal Day School light up with excitement.
Students in eighth through 12th grade are working to raise money for Heifer International, an organization that works with communities to end hunger and poverty by providing a variety of gifts to families in places like Thailand, Peru and India.
The “change for change” fundraising project was an idea English teacher Mark McNeil brought to Trinity, but also one he said students quickly turned into their own.
“The whole goal of this is that it’s their money that they’re raising and not their parent’s money,” McNeil said. “Once they get going it really turns into a competition, and I think they love doing things like this.”
But before any money is collected, the students from each grade sit down and decide what gift they want to give to the families.
The gifts range from animals such as sheep and llamas or agricultural products like irrigation pumps or bountiful harvests.
The 10th-grade students, who led the organization and planning of the whole project, decided to put their money toward something they think can go a long way — clean water.
“We just thought they could use that for a lot of different things instead of just an animal or something,” 10th grader Cena Mullins said. “I think a well and a purification system will go a long way for a needy family.”
Other classes, like the 12th graders, chose less tangible items like sending a girl to school and launching a small business.
But some classes just couldn’t resist the temptation of providing a family with a new pet as the ninth-grade class opted to send a llama.
But no matter what the students chose, the goal and end result is all the same.
“It’s always good to help other people,” 10th grader Alex Miller said. “It would be cool to actually go over there and help build a well, but this is what we can do from here.”
All the students participating have until Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to raise enough money to meet their specific goals. The goal amounts vary depending on the type and number of gifts the students chose.
Currently, the eighth-grade students who chose the gifts of sending a girl to school, a trio of rabbits and a flock of chicks have the most money raised at $106 of their $415 goal.
But even though they have less than a month to raise the money, the group of 10th-grade students said they are not worried.
“When it gets closer, we’ll start raising more money,” Mullins said. “We’ll definitely make the goal.”
And while the students won’t get to see their gifts being used by the families, 30 of them will get a glimpse into what its like to live in a third world country when they travel to the Heifer International headquarters in Perryville, Ark., for an overnight trip.
“They essentially show the kids what it would be like to live in one of these countries where they’re sending gifts to,” McNeil said. “They’ll have to live in huts, collect food or do whatever it is they have to.”
But it wasn’t the food gathering or potential animal care that worried some of the students planning to travel.
“I just want to see what everyone is going to do without their phones for a day,” 10th grader Wyatt Boothe said. “That’s going to be real interesting.”