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Country Day doubles world ark donation

by Morgan Smith

Charlotte Country Day seventh-grade students and their teacher, Linda Pelletier, present a check to Heifer representatives Alex and Ann Smythers, Tuesday, May 15, at an assembly at their school. (Back row, from left) Owen Engel, Ann Smythers, Alex Smythers, Linda Pelletier, Bryce Markel and Hal Froelich; (front row, from left) Sally Sasz, Riley Goodling and Caroline Funderburg. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Country Day School

Whether buying guinea pigs for families in Ecuador to add protein to their diets while earning more income, or helping families in Albania earn money with honey and beeswax from beehives, seventh-graders at Charlotte Country Day School are just happy they can make a difference in the world.

This year, they’re excited their contribution will be twice as big.

It’s been six years since seventh-grade social studies teacher Linda Pelletier introduced her students to Heifer International, an organization that works to empower communities world-wide by helping end hunger and poverty while also caring for the planet. The organization’s mission is to answer these social problems by providing long-term solutions through gifts of animals and sustainability training.

For Charlotte Country Day, Pelletier said her students are particularly fond of the program because of the Gift Ark, a $5,000 gift to the organization that provides various farm animals in areas and communities that need it most. The school’s goal this year and in recent years was to raise enough money for one Gift Ark.

“They like the idea of the ark, the idea of giving two of every animal to all these different countries. And part of Heifer’s deal is that families have to pass on the gift and the training” to others in their communities, Pelletier said. So the students raise money to buy the ark that goes all over the world where the effect continues to multiply, she added. “You’re making a village better, not just one family.”

But for this year’s seventh-graders, they reached $5,000 quicker than expected and set a goal to double their donation, racking up more than $10,000 to give to Heifer. And they raised the money all on their own, selling candy, juice and snacks at the school’s Bissell campus for 50 cents each, as well as other selfless acts.

“In the beginning, it was more of a struggle. It was just hard and the kids weren’t used to doing it. I mean $5,000 is a lot to raise,” Pelletier said. But now she said her students have a set system. They pack the food bins before school; they take the bins to other classrooms; they organize the items in Pelletier’s classroom and they count the money they’ve earned.

“It never occurred to me that we could raise $10,000,” Pelletier said. “In the past, it was hard to raise $5,000.”

And that might not have happened without the help of several kids in the seventh grade.

Two groups of girls held birthday parties and one boy a Bar Mitzvah, where instead of gifts they asked their guests to write checks for the Gift Ark cause. That raised nearly $3,700.

For Molly Mazeine, Olivia Durrett and Grace Gach, seventh-grade girls who attended the birthday parties, they were impressed and proud of their friends who gave up their gifts to help change the world.

“I think that it was a good idea too because some people would rather have a new iTunes gift card or something like that, but the people who the money is going to now, they probably don’t even know what those things are,” Molly said. “It’s kind of nice that you can give them an opportunity to have a better life.”

“I think it feels a lot more satisfactory to give a gift that’s going to change someone’s life entirely than to give them a gift that they’re going to keep for a year and then throw out or donate,” Olivia said.

The girls also added that the great part of Heifer is empowering communities and villages with long-term solutions rather than short-term solutions that can have a negative effect on people and their environments.

“In social studies, we learned about  some organizations that just give money or just give food, but that kind of affects their whole lifestyle and the farmers don’t have a way to make food,” Molly said. “So if you give them animals, it will show them a way to take care of themselves – without hurting themselves.”

What’s in an Ark?
• Two cows for milk in Russia
• Two sheep for wool in Arizona
• Two camels for transportation in Tanzania
• Two oxen to pull plows in Uganda
• Two water buffalo for rice production in Laos
• Two pigs for more self-reliance in Arkansas
• Two beehives for honey and beeswax in Albania
• Two goats for milk in El Salvador
• Two donkeys for farmers in Kenya
• Two trios of ducks for eggs in Ghana
• Two trios of rabbits for food in Guatemala
• Two trios of guinea pigs for protein in Ecuador
• Two flocks of geese for eggs in China
• Two flocks of chicks for eggs in Sri Lanka
• Two llamas for wool in Peru

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