GIVING BACK

'Making a difference halfway across the world'

The Globe and Mail

Students at Minnedosa Collegiate (from left to right): Samantha McIntosh, Emily Kingdon, Paxton Johnson, Jennifer Curle

The Donors: Students at Minnedosa Collegiate

The Gift: $41,000 and climbing

The Causes: Schools, food banks, orphanages and more.

Four years ago a couple of high school students in Minnedosa, Man., about 200 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, decided to raise money for a school in Ethiopia. Their inspiration came from Roberta Galbraith, a local resident who adopted twin girls from Ethiopia.

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The effort grew quickly and soon most of the 210 students at Minnedosa Collegiate, including Ms. Galbraith's twins, were involved. They formed a committee called STARVE, Support The African Right to Vital Education, and vowed to raise $30,000 in three years for the Hesu Junior School in Goba, Ethiopia. They raised $32,000, which paid for new buildings, improved electricity and sanitation at Hesu. Four Minnedosa graduates also travelled to Ethiopia to visit the school.

The students didn't stop there. Last year they formed a new group called CHANGE, Citizens Helping All Nations Grow Equally, and committed to raise $25,000 over four years for several causes including housing in Haiti, an orphanage in St. Vincent, a program for street children in Kurdistan, Samaritan's Purse and the Christmas Cheer Board. Students also started volunteering at local seniors' homes, donating to a local food bank and helping a needy family in nearby Brandon.

The group has exceeded its annual fundraising target every year and raised more than $41,000 in four years. The project has also become part of the community and many of Minnedosa's 2,500 residents have joined in.

Working on CHANGE has also had an impact on many of the students involved.

"There are a lot of things that we do that I wouldn't have been able to do on my own," said Paxton Johnson, a Grade 10 student and CHANGE committee member.

"It has been interesting because we are doing this from such a small community and making a difference halfway across the world," added committee member Jennifer Curle, who is also in Grade 10.

CHANGE president Emily Kingdon, a Grade 12 student, said the experience has encouraged her to continue working on development issues after she graduates. She initially planned to study English at Brandon University, but now wants to become a teacher as well. "Then I want to travel around and teach," she said. "I think that would help a lot."



pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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