Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pennies for Dessie

Wow, look what pennies can do! We received the following letter from Julie Barclay about her school district's recent efforts on behalf of AAI's Dessie's Dream project.

A few months ago an article ran in our local newspaper about my Ethiopian adopted son, Noah. As a result, Dave Shoup, a teacher at Union High School in Vancouver, Washington contacted me and in a real small world moment, we found out that Noah and his two adopted Ethiopian sons are all from the same town in Northern Ethiopia, Dessie. They now live less than 5 miles away from each other.

Every year for one week Dave does a fundraiser, called Dessie's Dream, where he collects coins from the students of Union High to go toward constructing a school in Dessie. He asked if I might be interested in helping out this year with the coin drive by including the Hockinson School District. To be honest, when Dessie’s Dream was presented to me by Dave a few months back it seemed just that, a dream something to long for, to daydream about, to set one’s heart on…but really was it something attainable or… just a daydream.
The idea of a coin drive for a school half a world away seemed a daunting task. If you had asked any first grader at the beginning of the school year what a school in Dessie, Ethiopia would have in common with their 21st century classroom in Hockinson, Washington you would have been met with blank stares and silence. Dave made an amazing video putting into perspective the stark comparison between our “Hockinson World” and the world of a school child in Dessie. Wonderful teaching moments arose by all faculty and teachers dedicated to this cause throughout the Intermediate and Middle school students within the Hockinson School District. It would be safe to say within the past 20 days Dessie and Hockinson “touched” each other through compassion and knowledge.

At the Middle School, our retiring librarian Barbara Fritzler was trying to figure out what to do with her frog collection she had accumulated over the 17 years she occupied the Middle School Library. A raffle for her frogs seemed to be the perfect solution. All week her middle school students came in and purchased raffle tickets for their favorite frogs. At the end of the week a drawing was held. All proceeds of the raffle ticket sales went towards Dessie’s Dream…and Barbara was happy that all of her precious frogs found homes as well. Win-Win! Also, as a final good-bye to Barbara her staff collected money for a retirement gift. They decided more than anything Barbara would appreciate donating that money specifically to the library at the new school in Dessie, so a separate check was also sent in honor of Barbara Fritzler to help fill the library for the students in Ethiopia.

Katie Nedved, an Eighth grade teacher summed up the energy of the Dessie’s Dream event perfectly,

My "tough guy" student in homebase showed his first glimpse of enthusiasm after watching the Dessie video...he proclaimed, "I'm bringing in $10!" I said, "You might win a lot of froggies with that contribution." He said, I don't need any frogs, I just want to do it to do it." (I thought to myself, can I have an instant replay on that please?!) Touched my heart...”

Today the final coins have been counted and it is with great pride that the children of Hockinson School District as well as all faculty and staff who participated at Hockinson Intermediate, Hockinson Middle School, and the Hockinson PWT that we present a check to Adoption Advocates International and the students and faculty associated with Dessie’s Dream in Dessie, Ethiopia for a grand total of $2258.37.

This experience has been nothing short of an honor to participate in. As one teacher put it, “Compassion is alive and well in Hockinson.” We are humbled by this opportunity and hope to continue a relationship in some capacity with this program in the future.

With great respect for all you do for the children of our world,

Julie Barclay

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