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Donor Spotlight: The third grade students of Sanchez Elementary School, Colorado

April 23, 2009

img_9648EI’s newest group of donors are not from the most privileged of backgrounds (82% live below the poverty level by US standards), nor are they the most experienced in years (the median age is 8 years old), but this has not stopped them from being full of heart and generosity. The third-grade students of Sanchez Elementary School in Lafayette, Colorado, recently raised enough money to sponsor two students through EI – far exceeding their fundraising goals and a huge achievement for the class!

This is their story …

To start, we first rewind to six years ago and the students’ teacher, Tom McSheehy. Tom had recently undergone the trauma of losing three close family members in a very short space of time, and had felt this as a catalyst for making some positive and meaningful changes in his life. One result was that he decided to take a trip to Costa Rica – his first trip outside the USA and therefore one which he embarked upon with some trepidation.

On the plane he happened to meet Kathy Adams (Founder and Executive Director of EI), who invited Tom to tour the barrio where EI was working at the time and then, later, the barrio in Nicaragua. It was an experience that spoke deeply to Tom, and for many reasons he felt like his visit had been predestined, that somehow it was connected to healing his grief. Tom described his visit as

“A powerful, magical and spiritual experience.”

This year Tom shared some of his photos from Nicaragua with his third-grade classes. The photos and resulting conversations got the students’ hearts involved with the challenges that kids face in Nicaragua, and moved them to help EI. Some of the students shared their feelings on why they wanted to help children in Nicaragua (in their own words):

“I felt bad for them and sad because they barely have anything.”

“I felt sad seeing the Nicaraguan children and how they lived and things they didn’t have, cars and trucks.”

“I felt sad because they don’t have strong houses.”

“I felt hurt and sad because some of them didn’t have shelter, they were not learning. So that’s why we chose school, not clothes or food.”

“I felt really sad because I felt like I was very special what I got and they are very special in their own way.”

“I felt a little sad because the Nicaraguan children don’t have as much as other children.”

“I felt proud that I was going to help other kids. I also felt sad when I see their homes and how they lived.”

The classes raised the money for EI (with the guidance of Tom and img_6971the other third-grade teacher, Nicholle Moreno) in a very imaginative way. They were learning about solar power in their science class and came up with the idea of raising money by making and selling solar bead bracelets. The beads are white indoors and, seemingly by magic, change to different colors when they are taken outdoors and ultraviolet rays hit the beads. The kids did all the work for the fundraising themselves, with duties ranging from designing the bracelets to promoting their product and counting the proceeds. Their goal was to raise enough money to send one child in Nicaragua to school, but they doubled this and raised enough for two! Some of the students shared their thoughts on their achievements:

“I felt happy about raising so much money because I think helping others in need is very kind.”

“When my class and I raised so much money, I felt proud of myself because I’m helping people that need my help.”

“I felt happy because I sent two kids to school.”

“It feels good to help others in need.”

“I felt proud of myself because what would it have been when you didn’t get to live your dream.”

“It feels great that I helped a kid.”

“It feels really nice and respectful to help other people across the world.”

“I felt great because I love to learn about the different kids in Nicaragua. It’s very fun.”

“It feels good because from all the hard work, you get a prize which is good.”

“It feels good… to me it feels very good. I love that feeling.”

Tom also shared some of his thoughts on the project:

“We definitely wanted our students to know that they are very blessed even though they are poor and that they have a lot of power to create positive changes in the world. We also wanted them to learn the importance of sharing and being of service to others. I feel that it is extremely important to teach kids that they have a lot of power to make positive changes in their neighborhood and the world. When they learn that they have this power, it helps their self-esteem and it helps to protect them from feeling depressed and powerless when they hear world news. I definitely feel that this project had a very positive influence on the third graders – the classes feel more connected and close and the kids more mature and aware.”

And judging by the kids’ comments, the project really did leave them feeling empowered: img_0651-1

“I learned that I could succeed in anything in life.”

“Now I know that I can change the world.”

“Everyone could make a big difference in the world.”

“It’s a good feeling to help other people. If you have a goal to do that and stick to it, you can do it. You can see all the stuff you did for them and it makes you feel so good.”

“I learned helping people is good.”

“I felt powerful.”

It doesn’t sound like the kids will stop here either! Here are some of their goals for the future:

“I’d like to help more than two people. And help more and more people every year.”

“I want to get rich, go around the world, and go to any poor places and give them a million dollars.”

“What I would like to do is help endangered animals and people.”

“I’m planning on doing fundraising and activities because I’d like to help the world be more helpful.”

“I would like to sell my toys and just raise money and I would do it for poor people.”

The kids are also participating in a pen-pal exchange with third-grade students in Nicaragua that EI sponsors. The kids have written their letters, got them translated into Spanish (~30% of the students speak both English and Spanish) and packaged them up to send to Nicaragua. They’re excited about getting letters back…img_8782

“I feel excited because I have never had a pen pal!”

“I never had a Nicaragua pen pal before, that’s why I was so surprised when I had a pen pal named David!”

“I feel happy to have a pen pal. It’s very fun because you can write letters back and forth.”

“I feel like I can connect with them. I was really excited.”

“I feel so happy. It’s my first pen pal. I just can’t wait until I get a letter back. I’m just so excited!!!!!”

EI is so grateful for the efforts of the third grade students of Sanchez Elementary School – the money is already being put to good use sending two new students to school – and we really appreciate them sharing their thoughts and feelings with us. We think you’ll agree that they, like so many of the EI donors, are a pretty special group of people!

Do you have an interesting story to share about why you got involved with EI? Have you organized a fundraiser recently? Please let us know – we’d love to include your story in our Donor Spotlight! You can email us at info@empowermentinternational.org

Emma Hill

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never finish  5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

Donate at Change.org

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One Comment leave one →
  1. shifath permalink
    February 27, 2010 10:03 am

    dear, im a poor student.and i live in bangladesh.you know that our countries economic condition is very bad becouse of corruption.i live alone with my mother.she is housewife.my father has died.may be i have to stop my study.in our country study is very expensive.plz help me.plz.

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