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CFT buddies raise money to change the world

Kindergartners and fourth-graders are 'world changers' as they help people near and far
by: Barbara Sherman, BEST BUDDIES — Students in Colleen Thompson’s kindergarten class and Anna Esterline’s fourth-grade class at C.F. Tigard Elementary gather together to celebrate their world-changer project, which helps a boy in India.

TIGARD - For the first time at C.F. Tigard Elementary, a class of kindergartners and a class of fourth-graders have banded together to become buddies and are working together to improve the life of a child in India.

'I was talking to my class after school started last fall about the fact that we have things that other people in the world don't, and one boy piped up, 'We're not ordinary - we're world-changers!'' said kindergarten teacher Colleen Thompson, who has made several trips to India to help children there have a better life.

'I helped the kids come up with ideas, and through India Partners, found a boy close to their own age - 7,' she added.

Thompson talked to fourth-grade teacher Anna Esterline about their students becoming buddies to raise the money for the little boy named Emanuel.

They came up with selling blank world-changer cards that people at school can purchase for 50 cents each and write messages in them to be delivered to others in the school.

On designated days, the fourth-graders man a booth outside their classroom to sell cards, and some kindergartners don sandwich boards and walk the hallways promoting the cards.

Once a month, on Thursday of world-changer week, the kids attach little treats to the cards and deliver them.

'They are loving this, getting together, counting money and learning math skills,' Thompson said. 'We are paying $30 a month to send Emanuel to school, and with the leftover money, we have helped other kids.'

At Christmas, the buddies provided outfits, toys and food packets for 50 kids living in slums, and other times they were able to give 10 blankets to kids and a goat to a village.

The kids also have helped people closer to home, sending money to help Vernonia flood victims.

'The kids have learned they can help people across the world or right in our own community,' Thompson said. 'We also talk about how to make our homes, school and community better.'

Recently, the fourth-graders came into the kindergarten classroom to talk about how the project is coming along and to add up the money that had been raised the previous month.

Thompson reminded the kids that the program, which started in October, allows all the kids in the school to participate in helping Emanuel go to a better school in a different village and also aid other needy kids.

'They love the buddy program,' Esterline said. 'We're the only classes in the school to do it. Every month, we get together for the kids to put the cards in envelopes. Usually the big kids sort them.

'We were talking today about why it is important to be a world-changer. What is it about Emanuel that we take for granted?'

The kids came up with such answers as food, clothes and the ability to go to school.

A fourth-grader was called to the chalkboard to add up the money collected over the previous month, which included $18.60 in mixed coins, $7 in nickels, $8 in quarters and $5 in pennies.

In addition, Thompson's mom was visiting that day and brought in a jar of coins that she found in a closet. When her $92.50 was added to the $38.60 plus another $5 that was donated, the kids had raised a grand total of $136.10, which was serious money.

After deducting the $30 to be sent to Emanuel, the kids were given several choices of what to do with the extra money.

Thompson told them that she learned from India Partners that they could purchase a bike for $70 so a kid who lives in a village without a school could get to a village with a school.

'Also, there is an island where people live, but the kids have no school,' Thompson. 'They want to build a school there and start with kindergarten. Each year they will add a grade.

'Those are two options, or we could save up the money for a big thing later, like a bus, plane or boat. We also could send money to where Emanuel goes to school.'

After choosing three options, all the kindergartners and fourth-graders voted on how to spend the money, with eight voting for the bike, 22 voting for the new school on the island, and 18 voting to save the money for a future project.

'Okay, we've decided to spend the extra money to start a school on the island,' Thompson said.

For more information, visit www.indiapartners.org.