Helping with CompassionPublished 10:41am Thursday, February 28, 2013 Updated 10:24am Friday, March 1, 2013
It’s one thing to send support for kids in need in a foreign nation. But for Hillcrest students who got to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, seeing the harsh reality of poverty made them want to adopt a whole school.
Hillcrest has been sponsoring children in poverty stricken countries through Compassion International for many years. This school year, students got the idea to help an entire school in the Dominican Republic through their Key Club, a student-led organization whose goal is to teach leadership through helping.
“While the kids were in the Dominican Republic on their senior mission trip, they got to visit a Compassion School and see how things were there,” said Mary Jo Good, Hillcrest’s Key Club Advisor. “When they came back they voted to do fundraising to help the school.”
Students go to public school in the morning, then go to a Compassion International sponsored school in San Pedro de Macoris, in the afternoon.
“Students that go there are very poverty stricken, with very little food or clothes,” said Gregg Preston, one of the mission group leaders, and a teacher at Hillcrest. “At the Compassion School they get food, study bible curriculum, have access to computers and extra education to prepare them to learn a trade to enter the workforce.”
Hillcrest students visited the Compassion School, improving the playground by spreading pea gravel where there was only mud before, and painting a brick wall.
“It gave me more perspective on how we live here, and makes me thankful for what we have,” said Theo Taylor, a Hillcrest senior from Fergus Falls. “We have a lot and sometimes we take that for granted.”
“What struck me was their openness and how much they appreciated us being there,” said Sam Jacobson, a Hillcrest senior from Eau Claire, Wisc.
According to Taylor and Jacobson, it was another student, Kathleen Martinson, that had the idea to have the Key Club support the Compassion School.
“The school sent a list of needs and we talked about each project,” Jacobson said.
The club ultimately agreed to focus on improving the school’s bathroom and playground, and have been holding fundraisers.
“We sold concessions at a basketball game, had a bake sale, and are selling Herbergers coupon books,” Taylor said. “We are going to be doing a fundraiser at Pizza Ranch — we clean tables and do dishes and get to keep a percentage of profits for that night, and can accept tips, and it all goes to the Compassion School project.”
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. The organization works through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.
The Hillcrest Key Club hopes to raise $5,000 before the end of the school year. The community is invited to support their efforts by eating at Pizza Ranch between 5 and 8 p.m. on March 18.
“We never know who we impacted, but by being there and showing God’s love we planted a seed and maybe indirectly we’ve made an impact,” said Taylor.