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Middle school students collect coins for relief
LANGLEY Small change might mean a big difference.
Six students at Langley Middle School hope so. The students recently led a Change Drive that collected thousands of coins that will be donated to provide relief to women and children in the Darfur Region of Sudan, a country in Africa.
The idea to collect change was inspired by a gathering of students following the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January.
Victoria Santos, a program manager for the Leadership and Resiliency program at the middle school, provides a room at the school during the lunch hour and invites students in for visits. She calls it the lunch group.
We meet together everyday except Fridays during lunch time, she said. We wanted to create a space where people could come and be here and hang out and do different things.
But last month, the students wanted to do something more than yoga or other activities, Santos said.
During the MLK celebration, there was a larger group of school members and community members that came together and Katie Locke was a part of that, she said.
Locke, 14, had seen a public service announcement during a recent school break about Sudan and the injustices faced by women and children in Darfur.
Darfur is a region in Sudan, a country in Africa and the problem there is that the Sudanese government has problems with Africans of African descent, she said. The government hired Arabs of African descent called Janjaweed, which means devils on horseback.
Locke was moved to find a way to help.
It was not really a project. It was just something I wanted to do to help the world, she said.
Locke enlisted the assistance of fellow students Mitch Worthy, Michelle Casey, Jimi Whitlock, Megan Jeffers and Shura Hilenan. The group made posters and collection buckets that were placed around the school. Locke then made speeches to other students to get out the word that women and children in a faraway place needed their help.
Casey, 12, helped Locke with administrative duties.
I was counting pennies and helped make and clean the buckets, she said. We made posters. It was fun and I learned a lot about foreign currency. I feel sorry for those women and children and all those women who didnt want to have children.
At first, Locke had a goal of $100. But as students, teachers, parents, counselors and other kids dropped pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even $5 and
$20 bills, it became quickly obvious to the group that they would surpass their target fairly quickly.
Families donated $11 worth of pennies that were already wrapped. That was a big help, said Worthy.
Weve raised more than $300 and mostly it has been pennies, Locke said as she continued to count still more piles of pennies.
The students drew a money order from US Bank for the first $310, said Worthy, 14.
Santos said the final tally may be even bigger.
Well raise more than $400, Santos said.
After the students have collected and counted all the change, they hope to send money orders to Women for Women, an international relief organization designed to provide direct financial and emotional support to women.
Another member was glad his fellow students gave so much for the cause.
I think weve helped a lot, said Whitlock, 13. The whole school has contributed and we got a lot more than we were expecting.
While the change drive is officially over, the school will continue to accept donations, Locke said.
Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or swebster@south