This past summer our Co-op 7th and 8th grade students, in preparation for their Global Issues curriculum, were assigned the task of making a business plan to raise money for Heifer International, a charity dedicated to ending poverty while caring for the Earth. Heifer International provides livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of people who struggle for reliable sources of food and income in 25 countries including the US. Their work aims to help families and communities to become self-reliant.
Students took on the summer challenge by coordinating and contributing their own time and talent to hold fundraising activities that included garage sales, craft sales, and bake sales. Students also earned money by volunteering their time to provide services and support to various families and organizations in the community. As a result of their community engagement, they were also able to educate people about Heifer International and the charity work they provide. After the summer break concluded and our students returned to the Co-op this past September, they were excited to learn that their fundraising efforts raised over $13,000 for Heifer International!
To sweeten this amazing outcome, Heifer informed us that there was an anonymous donor matching all funds raised through the end of September! So, in effect, the contribution to the Heifer programs amounted to $26,000! This donation can buy 5 Arks, giving families pairs of 14 types of livestock, whose offspring these families will, in turn pass on to help other members of their communities. Or it can give more than 78 girls the opportunity to go to school; buy biogas stoves for 26 villages; or the gift of clean water (systems and practices) for almost 100 families and much, much more.
The effort was spearheaded by Judy Bereczki, the Co-op’s esteemed middle school Theme teacher and 8th grade home room teacher. Ms. Bereczki has been teaching at the Co-op for over 35 years and has been partnering with Heifer International since 2008.
“We were exhilarated and ready to experience the Global Explorer program” shared Bereczki. The students travelled to Sharpsburg, Maryland to participate in the 3-day Heifer program to start their school year that included spending a day and night in their Global Village, in small family units, in homes resembling those found in impoverished communities in Kenya, Appalachia, Guatemala, Thailand, and Mozambique. Before and after the Global Village experience, the students had classroom and outdoor activities to learn about other challenges faced by some of these communities including how difficult and dangerous it is to find and fetch water (often not very clean) for the family, as well as discovering the limited amount of drinkable water we have left on the planet.
“The students returned home with many stories and lessons they learned about global poverty and hunger.” added Bereczki.