Castle Heights PEAK Students “Chip” in to Help African Children

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Press Release

Last week, PEAK students from Castle Heights Elementary sold chips and chocolate to raise money for students in Mali, Africa to attend school.

Students in PEAK this year went “Around the World in 180 Days” and studied dozens of countries. When they learned about children in Africa who struggled to meet basic needs, they wanted to help. When they learned that most families can’t afford to send their children to school, and that it only costs $10 USD to send a child to school for an entire year, they really wanted to help.

The Ouelessebougou Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Utah, has been working directly with communities in Mali for 35 years to construct wells, give agricultural guidance and build schools. Through this organization, PEAK students were able to send art projects to Malian students in January, and Malian students sent art projects back to the PEAK students in April.

Thanks to the Alliance and the Southeast Service Center, PEAK students also had access to a whole trunk full of artifacts, clothing and information about life in Mali that really helped build a connection. Fourth grader TenLee Zmuda said, “There was a huge hole in my heart, until I helped these amazing children!”

Similarly, third grader Demi Smith said, “I wanted to help but I didn’t know what to do at all” until this opportunity came about.

PEAK teachers Annie Sorenson and Liz Bryner were touched by the eagerness and enthusiasm of their students to help in a very meaningful way. “Our gifted and talented students often have profound sensitivity to the needs of others and a keen desire to help.,” they shared. “They also have great capacity to solve problems and effect change. We are so glad that they had a chance to make a direct and lasting impact on dozens of their peers in Mali.”

Fourth grader Ben Wilkinson said, “I care about kids in Mali and also their education, so I’m happy to help.”

Sentiments like these were widespread and students volunteered to get up early day after day to help with the sales. If you ask the students at Castle Heights, they will all tell you the fundraiser was a great success. Third grader Maeve Bradford said, “It was great to see all the progress of the sale. I saw everybody working together and trying to get the sale working.”

The four-day event was cut short because of its unexpected success, selling out of food early. Our local Smith’s Food and Drug was incredibly generous to order and sell food at or below cost, and even make donations for the cause. They kept resupplying the fundraiser day after day of unexpectedly high sales. Donations continue to come in, but the estimated profit is over $800, far beyond our expectations. That is enough for our 60 PEAK kids to send 80 children to school for the whole year.

After having a few months with no school last year, our students came to really appreciate the privilege it is to go to school and learn. Third grader Kheyanuah Warman-Kofford said, “I’m happy because now kids will be able to learn and have fun, but I love that kids in Mali are going to go to school!”

Third grader Colton Steele said, “I hope we get lots of kids in school. I’m happy I could help. I hope the kids that we send to school will learn as much as possible.”

Fourth grader Jacen Urbanik said, “I thought that we would not get enough money to get 10 kids to go to school, but plenty of people are going to go!”

Fourth grader, Grayson Sherman, wanted to thank his fellow classmates. “I’d like to say ‘Thanks, kids!’ because now 80+ kids can go to school in Mali for a year, so thank you!”

We would like to thank everyone who supported this fundraiser in any way, and especially Smith’s that allowed each dollar collected to go a lot farther. Fourth grader, Gabi Bonaquisto said, “I believe we can all make a difference and we, students at Castle Heights, made a difference. Hands down the best thing we could do!”

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