Berry Middle students seek to help less fortunate

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Berry Middle School teachers Maya Britt, Grant Potts and Jenny Coyne taught their eighth-grade world history classes about the evolution of agriculture last year, they asked their students if there were still parts of the world trying to provide for the people living there.

The answer was yes, but Berry students are trying to help that change.

Those lessons on the farming revolution sparked a 20-minute class on social issues held two days a week, where students get involved with social work.

They’re now working to raise money for Heifer International, which is sending much-needed resources to Haiti.

Dilhani Uswatte, a sponsor for the program, said she believes the program is teaching kids more than just how to raise money.

“It’s about learning about the people and places. I think that’s what’s so valuable about this project — it’s not just a fundraiser,” she said.

However, students are doing well in raising money. As of March 10, students in the class had raised more than $1,540 for Heifer International by selling T-shirts and house-shaped pins.

Sponsor Angie Mangina said students are learning action is vital to accomplishing any goal.

“It’s not just about raising awareness,” Mangina said. “If you raise awareness and it never moves into action, what good is that?”

Megan Pecot, an eighth-grader, said she wanted to help because she admired the work Heifer International does.

“I thought it would be really cool to get into the project and help people,” she said. “I really like to do this stuff and I like the feeling, so if they had it in high school or college, I’d like to do it.”

Fellow eighth-grader Madi Shore said doing work for Haiti inspired her to join the class.

“I really never was involved with charity work when I was younger, but I thought this was a really great cause,” she said. “My mom has friends who were in Haiti (when the earthquake happened), and I just wanted to do all I could do.”

After the students finish the Haiti project, they’ll start back working on a project focusing on homelessness, which was their focus before the Haiti earthquake. They’ll be taking supplies such as cereal, soap and socks to homeless shelters.

The sponsors all said the students have taken the class and made it their own.

“That’s what got me,” Uswatte said. “I saw the student leadership. These guys are really and truly excellent student leaders.”

For more information, check the project Web site at