Kids raising money to provide safe drinking water

Rows of milk jugs, 80-pound water containers and displays of clean and dirty drinking water adorn the hallways of Orchard Avenue Elementary School.

They are there because a second-grade class wanted to share with its school the importance of clean drinking water and the challenges some people on the other side of the world must endure to get it.

And Jennifer Stephens’ second-grade class didn’t stop there. Her students are leading what has grown into a schoolwide project to raise $2,000 for a well to be dug at a school in Africa.

The project will give the African students clean drinking water through an organization called Charity Water.

“They’re feeling very powerful,” Stephens said of her second-graders. “They said, ‘We want to change the world. This is what we want to do, and this is how we’re going to do it,’ and they did it.”

Taylor Paumen, 8, said the school has held bake sales, collected donations and sold bracelets to raise the money. The school has raised $1,600 in three weeks.

They hope to earn the full amount by March 22, which is World Water Day.

Taylor said her class wanted to know more about the lack of clean water and how it forces people in some parts of the world to walk three miles each day to fill 10-gallon jugs that weigh at least 80 pounds apiece. Taylor and her classmates soon thereafter began giving presentations on drinking water to other Orchard Avenue classes, which inspired one girl to donate the money she had been saving for months for a new video game.

That’s where the fundraising started.

“She wrote in a note that it was more important for people to have clean water,” Taylor said of the girl who gave up her video game money.

Stephens said the project has presented classroom opportunities such as teaching students about counting money by counting donations.

Stephens said she doesn’t know where the well will be located, but it will bear the school’s name.

Members of the Charity Water organization will visit Orchard Avenue Elementary School on Feb. 24 to pick up student artwork to take to Africa. Stephens is sending art supplies with them, so African students can send their artwork back.

“I had no idea they were going to get into this like they did,” Stephens said of her students.

“We keep saying we want them to be global citizens, and it takes something for them to care about.”


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