Students raise money to buy animals for people in Africa
CHAMPAIGN – Westview Elementary School students used the money they made from selling homemade notecards this month to make some unusual purchases.
They bought a cow. And a water buffalo. And a couple of chickens.
They aren't converting the playground to a barnyard. The animals will be given to poor families in Africa to help them feed and support themselves, through Heifer International, a humanitarian organization that fights hunger and poverty worldwide.
"It feels kind of cool we're helping people that are all across the world," said third-grader Tramale Hooser.
Westview students have been studying a different continent every month, and in December they studied Africa. They read the book "Beatrice's Goat," about an African girl who got a goat and was able to go to school with the money her family made selling the goat's milk. They also watched a video about the girl who inspired the book.
"Seeing the video really sparked them to be empathetic. They seemed really moved by seeing these children and their circumstances," said Ann Wampler, a literacy support teacher who organized the effort to raise money for a heifer, along with Deb Halle, another literacy support teacher. "We were excited about it and the students were excited about it, so we thought about how we could raise some money to support the Heifer Project."
They asked art teacher Jill Lagerstam to work with them. She was doing a printmaking project with her third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, so they decided to make and sell cards with prints of animals and trees.
"It was a simple thing for (the students), but it made a big impact for someone else. That was the point I was trying to get across to them," Lagerstam said, adding it was also a nice way for the whole building to collaborate on a project. It was also tied to the school's December theme of responsibility.
"I thought, 'Why in the world are we sending a heifer to Africa?'" said fourth-grader Elizabeth Lamkin. "As it went along, I learned we might be helping other kids our age, and we started buying more and more notecards.
"I'm proud of the school," she continued. "I think it's really special we could do this to help our world."
To make the notecards, the students drew an animal or tree, then created a relief by gluing string along the lines of the drawing. Then they put ink on it and stamped the image onto the notecards. The school sold bundles of five notecards for $5 each and raised $775.
"We're hoping we helped three different families," Wampler said.
In addition to providing the animals, Heifer International trains families to care for them. The cows given to the families are pregnant, and the families agree to pass on the offspring to another family in need. The families get milk for themselves and to sell to get the money for better housing or sending their children to school.
"I think it's going to be cool they can finally go to school," third-grader Karcyn Harris said of the kids the animals will help.