Athens students raising money to bring water to South Sudan

Lynch-Bustin fifth grader Carson Dean shows off how much money the class has raised for their Water for South Sudan project.

ATHENS — The Athens School Board got to hear about an important project members of the fifth grade class at Lynch-Bustin Elementary School have been working on during Tuesday’s workshop meeting.

Fifth grade teacher Erica Greer and three of her students — Brycen Wood, Alexis Cocco and Lilley Watkins — told the board about their Water for South Sudan project.

The students are raising money to help build wells in South Sudan after reading the book “A Long Walk to Water” in class.

The students explained why they wanted to get involved to the school board.

“Dirty water can kill people and it also spreads diseases. Many people in Sudan have to walk for hours to get water,” one student told the school board.

Greer has seen firsthand how the book and the project have helped inspire her students.

“A lot of the kids had no idea before we actually read the book. I remember seeing a lot of the kids with tears in their eyes when they realize the one child that has to go and get the water, what she had to go through to get (water),” Greer said. “It really just kind of hit home with them when they were reading this book and then realizing that they could make an impact.”

The students have been raising money as part of the Iron Giraffe Challenge, which is named after the piece of equipment they use to drill the wells in South Sudan.

The fundraising has included a school-wide pajama day where the students had to pay $2 to wear their favorites pajamas to school. They have also collected nearly 200 pairs of gently used sneakers that will be sold to a company called “Got Sneakers,” for anywhere between $1 and $3 per pair.

Coming up there will be a 50-50 drawing among the teachers as well as a teacher dress down day plus a penny war. Wrapping things up will be some pies to the face of some teachers and Lynch-Bustin Elementary Principal John Toscano, according to one student.

Greer has been thrilled to see the kids get excited about the project.

“They’ve gotten involved. I’ve seen kids ask ‘when’s our next fundraiser and how can I help?’” said Greer.

The students also made a pitch to the school board and to the community to chip in to their project, which has currently raised just under $1,200 with the ultimate goal of $1,800.

“If you are interested in donating, we are graciously accepting donations. Checks can be made payable to Water for South Sudan. Thank you for your support — now let’s help build a well,” one student told the board.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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