Greencastle O Ambassadors club's good works span the globe

February 08, 2008|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Forty students at Greencastle-Antrim High School have been working since December to help those in impoverished nations in West Africa, as well as those in need in their own community.

The students are a part of the O Ambassadors club, a joint program of Oprah's Angel Network and Free The Children, according to a press release from Greencastle-Antrim High School.

"They are part of a network of O Ambassadors clubs across North America that are working to find solutions to global challenges through active learning, idea sharing and taking action," the press release said.

"Oprah Winfrey initiated the challenge to schools in Canada and the United States," said club adviser Martina Fegan, who has been an English teacher at the high school for eight years. "(The students) are learning the value of giving the time, talents and financial resources to their global neighbors (West Africa) as well as their local and national community. They are learning the gift of self-sacrifice and social responsibility."


The students in the club are working toward the United Nations millennium development goals of poverty, education, health and sustainable development, Fegan said. The club raises money and awareness to reach each of these goals.

Every two months, the club will focus on a different theme. In December and January, the focus was poverty. Now the focus is education.

"The funds raised by the students will go towards holistic development projects in West Africa," the press release said. "These projects provide West African children and their families with the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty."

Something different that the Greencastle-Antrim High School club is doing is addressing the same issues locally that they are addressing globally.

"We also decided we wanted to have a more local level of helping people as well as worldwide," said Erica Marshall, a junior and an educational co-chair of the club.

"We're one of the only clubs going above and beyond what is expected of us," Fegan said.

When the club focused on the issue of poverty, they raised funds for West Africa and also organized a food drive to benefit the Greencastle Food Pantry. The club raised $547 through a Tastefully Simple fundraiser, where they sold food products.

For the next two months, the club will focus on the issue of education. They are planning a local book drive in memory of Stephanie Zeis, a 2007 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, who was killed in a car accident at the end of December.

The books will be sent to the My Stuff Foundation for abused and neglected children throughout the United States, Fegan said.

Also in February, the high school is having a Sweetheart Dance on Feb. 16 and $1 has been added to the ticket price and the proceeds will go to those in need in Africa. The club expects to raise $300 to $400 through this fundraiser, Fegan said.

"A couple hundred people go to the dance," said T.J. Bard, a junior and treasurer of the club.

The money raised by Greencastle-Antrim's club will go toward development projects that are most needed in West Africa, according to a fact sheet about what the money can do.

The club chose the name Tumani Ambassadors because tumani means hope in Swahili, said Brittany Smith, a senior at Greencastle-Antrim High School and educational co-chair of the club.

"It's to provide hope for those in West Africa," Smith said of the club's name. "When people are struggling, they often times lose hope and we want them to know we are here to help."

Smith said she joined the club for personal reasons.

"I've been to Africa and it's one of my passions," Smith said. "To do something to benefit thousands of people locally and in Africa (means a lot to me)."

Bard said he was excited to be a part of a group that could achieve so much.

"I just felt that the group has the potential to do so much," he said.

The high school was chosen out of more than 200 applicants who applied for the program, Fegan said. They learned they were chosen before Thanksgiving.

"We want to spread education and we want to try to stop world poverty," said Roxanne DeWalt, a senior and a fundraising co-chair of the club.

The club officers are: Co-leaders, seniors Paige Penrod and Adam Christophel; secretary, junior Christine Ernharth; treasurer, junior T.J. Bard; historian, senior Katie Herman; fundraising co-chairs, senior Roxanne DeWalt and junior Alexis Ashley; educational outreach co-chairs, senior Brittany Smith and juniors Rachel Statler and Erica Marshall.

Blue Devils Night at the Suns

The Hagerstown Suns will designate May 30 as Blue Devils Night for Greencastle-Antrim High School. The first 800 fans to enter Municipal Stadium will receive a Blue Devil bobblehead. Greencastle-Antrim High School will receive recognition as the participating school, inclusion in all team media buys and will receive mention in 200,000 team pocket schedules. A school representative will sing the national anthem and throw out the first pitch. There will also be fireworks that evening.

The tickets are $7 each and $4 from each ticket will go to the O Ambassador Club's fundraising efforts. The club's goal is to sell 1,000 tickets. Tickets are currently on sale. To purchase a ticket, contact Martina Fegan, club adviser at 717-597-218

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