Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 27, 2006
Schools pitch in to build wells for Africa
Student forsakes video game player to meet greater need
By BILL GLEN
"Sometimes kids have to step up."
Doreen Bloos brought the idea of supporting the foundation to St. Charles Parish during the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace's access to fresh water campaign in 2003. She had read an article about Hreljac a few years earlier in a national magazine.
"St. Charles is a parish with a lot of young familes," said Bloos, parish social justice committee coordinator. "We purchased a video on Ryan's Well and we thought we could share it with all the children in the five elementary schools in the parish. We wanted to share it with more than just the children who come to church on Sunday."
With parish council approval, the school principals were contacted. All agreed to provide support.
The parish and the five schools in Castle Downs - including Bishop Savaryn, Katherine Therrien, St. Lucy and St. Timothy - have been raising funds through various initiatives, including bottle drives and coin collections. The schools have had several fun activities like break-a-rule day and have raffled off items donated by staff members.
"This was brought to us by the parish to help Ryan's pursuit," said Colleen Hook, principal of St. Charles School. "The video we showed the children - with Ryan being a child himself - had a huge impact. It showed them how one child has made a difference."
Hook says children like Pulongbarit are a good example of how unselfish kids can be.
"It tells me they have a good sense of how they can contribute to help children in other parts of the world. They can look beyond their own needs and appreciate what they have. I think Justin is a fine young man."
A watering can is passed around the classrooms and staff room daily for coin collection. For one day, the students could break a rule for 25 cents. They could chew gum, listen to music or wear a hat. Staff members pay $1 to wear jeans. Movie day cost a quarter to attend.
"Students bring in bags of coins and they are very excited about looking at how they can make a difference," Hook said. "The school's theme is 'Hearts and Hands for Christ' so we believe we are here to do Christ's work by reaching out to our community."
To date, the schools have raised almost $4,800.
"I have learned the people in Africa don't have good water," said St. Charles Grade 5 student Haley Melnyk. "So we are taking a collection for them."
Her younger brother Eric made a contribution to the collection can. "We have raised a lot of money," said Eric, in Grade 3. "People can be really sick without clean water."
Susan Hreljac was unaware children in Edmonton were involved. She had a special message for each of them on behalf of her son: "Please tell them they are Ryan's new heroes."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.