When Rebecca Jessee included a Scholastic Storyworks magazine article in her fifth-grade lesson plans, she never dreamed it could result in bringing fresh drinking water to people across the world.
The article recounted the story of a young girl in Mozambique, Africa, who walked two miles every day to fetch the water her family needed to survive. After walking a mile to the water holes the villagers had dug, she then waited in line for hours. The chore took most of her day, so she was unable to go to school. The contaminated water she carried home in a 20-40 pound jug had to be boiled, but often it still made them sick.
“Our eyes were opened to the fact that over 800 million people in the world do not have the blessing of clean water,” Rebecca said. Her students at Indian Springs Elementary School were so moved by the story that they wanted to do something to help. “I had them make IMovie trailer videos to tell facts about water contamination and formulate a plan to make a difference, and that’s when we came up with our goal through Charity: Water,” she said.
Charity: Water is a non-profit organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Rebecca said they chose the organization because 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to funding the wells. The average well costs $10,000, so the ambitious students immediately formulated a plan to raise money. In just a few weeks, they had raised $1,000 by selling handmade bracelets, muffins and cookies.
This is not the first time that Rebecca has given her students the opportunity to help others. Once a month, she brings several students with her to volunteer at Soup for the Soul in Bristol to help feed the homeless.
“I just want to teach them that they can be proactive to help others, and that they can benefit their community even at 10 years old,” she said.
It is clear that this dedicated instructor teaches more than just English and Language Arts. Her students are learning to be aware of the needs of people everywhere. One of Rebecca’s students, Brayden Barr, explained why he is excited about the Charity: Water fundraiser.
“We have it good and have been blessed. People in other countries don’t have the opportunity to have the things that we do,” Brayden said. “I just want to make it known that anybody can make a difference and we can all help.”
Rebecca and her students invite the community to join in their efforts to raise the necessary funds to sponsor a well in Africa.
“How amazing it would be to be able to say that my fifth-grade class, and school, funded a well!” she said.
Their slogan is “Help Make a Difference With ISE” and they are doing just that. A fundraiser yard sale was planned for Saturday, April 14. All proceeds from the items sold at that event will go to the funding of the well and add to their total.
Other plans to raise money will include an outdoor movie at the school, a summer car wash and T-shirt sales. The shirts can be purchased online for $12, along with bracelets, muffins and cookies made by the students. The shirts were specially designed and printed by fifth-grader Carson Leming, with help from his parents Sherri and Travis. They hope to sell 500 shirts, which would help them to reach their $10,000 goal.
Donations can be made online at www.charitywater.org. To specifically support the effort of students at Indian Springs, click on the Fundraise link in the upper righthand corner of the website and then search Indian Springs Elementary School in the Find a Campaign section. For more information about the project or upcoming fundraising events, or to order a T-shirt, you can contact Rebecca Jessee on her Facebook page or email her at [email protected] Your support can truly help make a difference!