May 14, 2010

Elementary Schoolchildren Raise Funds for Clean Drinking Water

School works with Water For People to raise funds for clean drinking water in Central America

A single donation of 50 cents can go a long way. This was the discovery of one elementary school that worked with Water For People, a Denver-based nonprofit organization, to raise funds for clean drinking water in Central America.

Water For People brings water and sanitation to 11 developing countries in Asia, Africa, South and Central America. Their vision is a world in which all people have access to safe drinking water and are free from sanitation-related disease. Water For People works with a variety volunteers, businesses, schools and organizations to raise funds and awareness.

One example of such a group this year is the St. Mary’s School in Aliso Viejo, Califl, which coordinated a fundraiser to help kids get access to clean drinking water in Central America. Craig Cullen, who is a parent in the class and a sales director with the ITT Corp., a provider of transport and treatment of water, worked with Water For People and the teachers of the school to do a presentation to the 2nd and 3rd grade classes about the importance of clean drinking water. After his presentation, a 2nd-grader named Josette approached Craig, offered him 50 cents and asked that her money go to help children in need. Her donation inspired her schoolmates to start a fundraiser.

“It was an eye opener for me to see so many children wanting to learn about the concerns around water,” Cullen said. “I have presented the same message in various business situations but I have never had as many questions asked about what they could do to help.”

The fundraiser was named Project Isabella after one of the students who was born in Guatemala and later adopted into an American family. During Craig’s presentation, Isabella shared her own story of growing up in Central America and the challenges she and other children like her faced.

In little time, the children from St. Mary’s School raised $594 to help others have access to safe drinking water. The money will go to Water For People, through ITT Watermark, the philanthropy arm of the ITT Corp., to ensure that the children in developing countries benefit directly from the school’s work.

“Do not underestimate the power of children,” Cullen said. “I would suggest that all parents get involved with their children's schools and make a simple presentation to educate the next generation. As I have found out, a simple 30 minutes and a little girl handing me 50 cents can turn into a lot of proud children who are making change. And the best part is that children in totally different countries will benefit the most.”