Teacher Gives A Lesson On Charity

Teacher Gives A Lesson On Charity
WRITTEN BY: Daniel Pearce
Thursday December 21, 2006

JARVIS – The idea was for Amy Dow to get her Grade 1 class to learn more about the world while at the same time indulging her favourite passion: traveling to exotic places.

Last month, the 26-year-old teacher at Jarvis Public School brought an old suitcase into her classroom and asked students to help her fill it up with the things school kids in rural El Salvador could use, such as pencils and old textbooks.

One month later, Dow and her boyfriend Stu McLaren have enough stuff for four suitcases when they leave for their one-week trip to Central America on Dec. 28. Dow’s request for help has reverberated beyond her classroom. Staff at the school emptied closets and cupboards of supplies – stationery, dictionaries, old textbooks, children’s books – that hadn’t been touched in a long time. Students in other classes heard about the campaign and pitched in as well. So did parents, grandparents and local churches, not only with supplies but also with cash.

McLaren is an online marketer and put out requests for money. He organized a fundraising teleconference that allowed small business owners to pay a fee to listen to five marketing experts. That raised about $12,500.

The pair will take the money with them to donate to the people of San Fernando, a poor rural town near the border with Honduras.

“I’m looking forward to coming home with photos that show the expressions on their faces when they get pencils,” Dow said. “I want to show them (my students) the difference they can make.”

Dow has roughed it in far-flung places before. She has backpacked through Indonesia and Thailand, where she stayed with a family for a month. She slept on their floor while volunteering at the local school.

Next week, she will again stay with a family and help teach English at the community’s school.
Dow’s endeavor has had the desired effect. “Some of the kids are really excited that they can make a difference,” she said. “Some of them have really grasped it.” “The trip has also been good for the school,” said principal Kathy Ricker. “It puts things into perspective for all of us on a daily basis.”

It has also ignited the interest of the community. A mother of one of Dow’s students approached the board of Wesley United Church, which liked the idea and made a cash donation. “We view it as aid work and we feel that’s important,” said board member Carole Peterson. It will also help kids at Jarvis Public School realize there are children in the world who don’t have half what they have.”

Dow has always been passionate about helping children in developing countries with their education, McLaren said. That’s why he was inspired to join her latest quest. “She’s just so passionate about it, and I want to support her any way I can,” he said.

McLaren and Dow’s mission is affiliated with Global Youth Network, an international organization based in New Zealand.