A village in Sierra Leone, West Africa will be getting a brand new school, complete with school supplies and much-needed medical care and a clean water well, thanks to the fundraising efforts of students at Sunshine Hills Elementary.
“We truly feel that we have given the children of our village a hand up, and have made a positive difference in their lives,” said Joan Stephens, teacher at Sunshine Hills and sponsor of the Sunshine Hills Social Responsibility We Team, a group of 35 Grade 6 and 7 students.
Sunshine Hills students first took on the initiative of helping African children in 2009. During the 2009-10 school year, the social responsibility team adopted a poverty-stricken village in Sierra Leone through the organization Free the Children. Following an assembly to raise awareness of the plight of less fortunate children around the world, a variety of fundraisers were organized throughout the year, including a walk-a-thon, cookie sale and coin drive. About $18,000 was raised for the adopted village.
The success of the first initiative encouraged Sunshine Hills students to do it again this year – but to go ever bigger – and the school set out to raise $20,000 for a second village in Sierra Leone. Fundraising started in the fall with a swap meet to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to raise awareness of how many children are still being denied basic rights. The students also designed T-shirts and sold them, as well as holding a second walk-a-thon and coin drive. Students raised $22,000.
As a result of their hard work, Sunshine Hills students received Free the Children’s “Big Dreamer Award,” which contributed another $5,000 towards the school’s efforts, pushing the grand fundraising total to $27,000.