They rake it in for charity

November 26, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

MOUNT AETNA - Though just 14, Joseph Needham said his activities recently to help a homeowner clean up his lawn were way more than just raking leaves ? it had a global significance.

"It feels like God is with me and acting through me," Joseph said of his participation in the project.

The Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School eighth-grader and others were raking leaves to earn money to send to Pakistan where the needs are great following recent disasters there.

Students approached homeowners in the school's neighborhood. The students told the homeowners why they were undertaking the project and didn't quote a price. In most instances, the homeowners paid between $20 and $50 for the work, students and teachers said.


New principal and Bible teacher, Kandace Zollman said school officials decided many years ago that the holidays had lost some of their meaning.

"The kids were all about gifts so the school decided instead to get names from the community to give gifts to the needy," Zollman said.

A recent car wash for Niger raised $500 and a fall festival took in $100 for Pakistan, Zollman said. Then there was a garage sale that earned $1,400 for hurricane victims in the South. Zollman said the students, from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, are encouraged to come up with ideas.

It was during one of those brainstorming sessions that the idea for the garage sale for hurricane victims was suggested.

"We had several children from the Gulf Coast area in our classrooms for several weeks," Zollman said. "It really put a face on the tragedy" for the students. During the holiday season, the students are collecting food which will go to Adventist Services for distribution to the needy. Recently, 701 food items were donated along with $107 in cash for dairy and meat items.

The idea of raking leaves for Pakistan came from a student, Zollman said.

Katy Yeary, 14, said she has had experience doing community service before with tsunami relief. "I'm really into it now," Katy said after her leaf-raking experience.

Sidney Milam, 12, said it was fun being out of school, raking leaves for people. "But it was pretty cold," Sidney said. "It's a good feeling to do things for people I don't know."

All of these projects have prompted school officials to adopt a theme for the students' efforts to help people.

"We tell them they are going to be the salt of the earth," Zollman said. The bulletin board shows the students getting out of the salt shaker as they contribute their time to the people in need ? here at home and all over the world.

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