Helping Others Locally and Globally

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Spring 2011 is just beginning to take hold in many parts of the US, pushing cold and wet away, and bringing flowers and green grass.  With it, spring brings encouragement and hope of things new.  In the last week we’ve heard about two families that are bringing hope and encouragement, like spring, to more than a village in Africa.  They are bringing it to one another as well.

At Rockford High School, Junior Makenzie Connor (‘Kenzie’ to friends and family) doesn’t just do good for others 7000 miles away from Rockford… she does good for people in her own backyard.

Makenzie got involved with The Water Project after selecting clean water as her topic for a speech class. Through her Internet research she found The Water Project web site.  “I didn’t really plan on fundraising, but then afterwards I got started and now I’ve raised almost $1300.”, says Makenzie.  In all 90 classrooms at Rockford High, Makenzie placed donation bags and information about the need for clean water.  Weekly, Makenzie would go around to each classroom and pick up the donations, all the while wearing a cast on her knee.  Friends really mattered as they pitched in and helped with making the rounds to each classroom to collect the donations.

The donations made a big jump the day that Makenzie attended her parish’s youth organization, WHAM, and heard from a team that had just come back from Africa.  The team shared their first hand story of what they experienced during their trip, including seeing the need for clean water.  When they heard Makenzie was raising funds for a well project, the donations that were collected that night were passed to Makenzie for her fund raising efforts.

Cool enough already, right?

Enter Sam, a 4th grader at Parkside Elementary School.  Sam’s teacher gave each student $2 and challenged them to change the world with it.  Sam’s Dad was reading a news article about a girl in his town that was raising funds for a well in Africa (yup, this was Makenzie), and Sam really liked the idea.  Sam wrote to Makenzie and told her he wanted to help. Sam and his family made up donation cans each with a message about clean water (like, “$1 will give 1 person water for 1 year!”) and placed them around Sam’s school.  Sam’s set a goal of $100 and he raised $104, exceeding his goal!

Globally, Makenzie and Sam are making a difference.

Locally, they were connecting with each other, sharing the goal, and encouraging each other.  In fact, Makenzie demonstrated that encouragement when she had a special Excellence award made up for Sam, and then surprised him at Parkside with the award, a certificate for a dozen cupcakes from her renowned cupcake side-business, and an I’M GIVING WATER wrist band from The Water Project.    Way to keep the spring encouragement going Makenzie!

When we asked Sam what he would want to say to a student his age in Africa who will drink from the well his fundraising helped build, Sam said, simply, “I would say that I was glad I could help you.”  You did Sam …

Check out Makenzie’s fundraising page at: http://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/kenzie-conner .   She is just short of her goal of $1500.  If you would like to help, we’re sure she and Sam would appreciate it!

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