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Students raising money to better lives in Africa

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:17 a.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Tracy Kitzman teaches her social studies class at Reagan Middle School Wednesday afternoon. Kitzman's students are raising money to help build wells in Africa. They have $1,801 so far; their goal is $2,500.
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Project captain Kylie Shaw is one of Tracy Kitzman's seventh-grade humanitarians. "It's about global citizenship," the middle-schooler says. "We all have a role to play."

DIXON – Tracy Kitzman’s seventh-graders have learned even drinking water cannot be taken for granted.

To go along with their global studies lesson, the Reagan Middle School students have raised $1,801 so far, to buy wells for impoverished communities in Africa from Heifer International. Their goal is $2,500.

This is the fourth year Kitzman’s students have tackled a global humanitarian project.

She lets them vote each year on which issue they would like to address. The first year, they donated to the American Red Cross for Haiti earthquake relief. Hunger in Africa was the cause the last 2 years, and additionally, the middle-schoolers fought hunger at home last year by also raising money for the Dixon food Pantry. Donations totaled $1,674.

This year’s cause is clean drinking water in Africa. Their motto: “Saving the world one well at a time.”

“Every year, it gets progressively bigger,” Kitzman said. “There’s more to manage, but it’s great to see it’s evolving. The kids are really going to town fundraising.”

An elective group of students has been meeting once a week during lunch to come up with ways to raise the money. They have sold concessions at school events, teamed up with the student council to have a talent show, sold arts and crafts, and pop and ice cream during class and lunch – even T-shirts with their motto.

The students, led by project captains Kylie Kutz, Ellie Chidley, Kylie Shaw and Gretchen Bushman, now are chasing corporate sponsors to reach their goal.

The captains said they enjoy most the opportunity to help fix the issues they are learning about and realizing they can make a difference, even continents away.

“It’s about global citizenship,” Shaw said. “We all have a role to play.”

“The hazardous water takes lives and decreases their population more and more every day,” students Alyssa Kruger and Alyssa South wrote for the school website. “Although we may be just a small class in a big world: making a difference in the lives of those in Africa is far from impossible. We are planning on giving the simple necessity of water to those dying of thirst.”

A team of 11 more students helped with arts and crafts and sales for fundraisers.

“We have so much stuff here, and there are people in the world less fortunate,” said Morgan Hoffman, who helped with those efforts. “We have the resources here to help.”

Kitzman said she will take a small group of former and current students to the Center of Global Studies International Summer Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on June 15.

The topic of Kitzman’s presentation will be “Conceptualizing Poverty in the Educational Setting,” with her students highlighting their global projects.

“How many students does it take to save lives in Africa?” asked Kruger and South in their message to fellow students.

“Just 28.”

To donate

To donate to Tracy Kitzman's class project, contact her at tkitzman@dixonschools.org or 815-284-7725.

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