Little Christian school making a big difference

By Yvonne Dick

What can a small Christian school with 11 students between grades 2 and 9 actually do to help the world? Perhaps they can bake cookies or collect pop bottles to raise money for their church. If they are the Woodlands Adventist School near Ponoka, they set their sights a little higher — in the literal sense.

“We wanted to raise money for something other than ourselves,” explains teacher Andrea Grey. “First we started off wanting to build classrooms, or build a school to help kids who are blind. Then we decided we wanted to something really meaningful (more than a building), and help kids actually get to see, which is so important.”

The school, through a garage sale in the fall, raised around $600. One child may see their holiday gifts for the first time this year thanks to Woodlands Adventist’s students. Their goal is to raise $2,000 that will enable the operations needed for four children to see.

After setting the goal, Grey made sure the students would be on track scholastically with the project too. Integrating what they would learn into the lesson plans, students read The Breadwinner, which showed what life was like in Afghanistan for kids — 11-year-old Parvana lives in a one-room apartment with her family, and due to circumstances in the war-torn country, becomes the breadwinner for the family.

“We are continuing on through Parvana’s story. We plan to also bring in people from CARE Red Deer who work with refugees to Canada, and they will share their story of life in Afghanistan so students get a better understanding of the culture.”

What makes the cause they are raising funds for so very interesting is that it originates in Lacombe. A Better World, founded in 1990 as part of the College Heights Adventist Church in Lacombe, and totally volunteer operated is “dedicated to improving lives without regard to ethnic, political or religious association.” Starting out as church families involved in an annual Christmas project, A Better World, the group has grown to include several churches of various affinities, 16 schools, and countless businesses and individuals.

Grey says her students are doing a bottle drive and plan another garage sale in the spring. “People just drop their bottles off here – we are having a box created for bottle drop off. We are also having a thermometer type display made to show our progress. We’ve raised enough money for one child to see, so we have three more to go.”

Cheques to A Better World can be sent right to the Little Christian school making a big difference charity with the school’s name in the memo line so that funds go to the students’ sight project. Online, donations can be made directly to the site by clicking a donate link. Donations can be dropped off at the Woodlands Adventist School – they are still hoping to find a Ponoka business willing to collect donations for the school, as an easy drop-off point for residents to help the students.

Just as a small school can make a big difference, Grey says even one person can do a lot. “Anybody can help. Anyone who is willing and able to help support it. Businesses, churches, anybody. They can contact the school as well if they want to have more information.”

The Breadwinner:http://www.groundwoodbooks.com/gw_titles.cfm?pub_id=300

A Better World:http://www.a-better-world.ca/

CARE:http://www.intentr.com/immigrantctr/