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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Children´s Mite
Royal Palm Academy students sponsored two poor Mano Amiga children through a successful “Change for Change” fundraising campaign.

A Royal Palm Academy student prepares to make her contribution.
A Royal Palm Academy student prepares to make her contribution.

Naples (Florida), August 26, 2008. Ana Ozores, a 3rd - 8th grade Spanish teacher at Royal Palm Academy, launched a campaign that made the students protagonists in doing good to others.

Last year, Ana was contacted by the Altius Foundation, which is the umbrella organization that runs the Legion of Christ’s charitable activities in the fields of education, health care, and development for the poor. They wanted to know if Royal Palm Academy, which belongs to the network of schools affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, could partner with a Mano Amiga school for poor children in Latin America. As a sister school, Royal Palm would sponsor one or several Mano Amiga students so that these poor children could receive a quality education for free.

Ana had already heard about Mano Amiga schools and the idea struck an immediate chord.

“When they asked, I was thrilled,” she said. “I knew the cause was worthy, and I knew that our students here at Royal Palm would certainly step up to the plate and help out however
Three 8th grade students pose with a picture of Luis.
Three 8th grade students pose with a picture of Luis.
they could.”

The next question was how to organize the outreach campaign in an attractive way that would also benefit Royal Palm’s students. Ana took the question to prayer... and came out with an idea that blossomed into a successful school-wide campaign that has opened the students’ eyes and taught them the value of small, personal sacrifices.

A Student-Led Campaign

She decided to call the campaign “Mano Amiga-Change for Change” and to put the leadership in the hands of the students, especially the 8th grade class.

Her first step was to introduce the idea to her student leaders. She showed them a magnified picture of the two Mano Amiga students they were going to sponsor, Luis and Karla, and explained the real circumstances of the children and the obstacles they faced in daily life. She told them about what the Altius Foundation does to help poor children, and then invited them to spearhead a campaign that would make Royal Palm Academy’s students become real benefactors of Luis and Karla.

The 8th
Two happy campers at the Hispanic festival, a fundraising event that was part of the campaign.
graders loved the idea and took it on. At the K4J (Kids for Jesus) kickoff event, they presented the campaign, which fit right in with that month’s K4J theme of generosity. They displayed a life-sized picture of Luis and Karla for the entire school to see and explained the rules of the school-wide classroom competition.

Every day, students were to bring in their loose change and contribute it to a Mano Amiga – Change for Change container in their classroom. The 8th graders would tally up the totals at the end of the week and publish the results on a prominently displayed Change for Change bulletin board, as well as in the weekly mailing home to the parents.

There was one strict rule to the campaign: students were not to ask their parents for money. The money had to be a personal contribution; it had to be their gift to Luis and Karla. The quantity was not as important as the development of a spirit of sacrifice and solidarity.

The Children’s Mite

Royal Palm Academy students will be sponsoring Karla and Luis up to their graduation form High School.
Royal Palm Academy students will be sponsoring Karla and Luis up to their graduation form High School.
by day, the students were able to see how their pennies, nickels and dimes added up. In this way, says Ana, “they realized the power of collective effort and understood how such a simple sacrifice could make all the difference in the life of a child just like them.”

As the campaign went on with continual motivation from the 8th graders and teachers, the children continued to grow in a spirit of generosity. Some broke into piggy banks that they had been saving up. Others brought in personal $100 bills that they had been given as gifts by their grandparents. But mostly, they brought in their small change, contributing their “widow’s mite” every day.

“The daily act of bringing in their allowance change, or money gifted to them, or personal savings reminded them daily of Luis and Karla’s needs,” says Ana. “Such acts allowed them to learn about giving and taught them they have a personal responsibility towards others.”

Tom Huckins, the school´s executive director,
An 8th grade Royal Palm Academy student working a booth at the Hispanic festival.
An 8th grade Royal Palm Academy student working a booth at the Hispanic festival.
observed that the sense of a concrete connection with Luis and Karla helped the students to grow in that spirit of solidarity. 

"One of the most impacting elements was the life size photo of the children they were sponsoring. They could practically look them in the eye and see that ´other Christ´ that lived a much more difficult life than they do," he said. "It is a great way to build that world community that shows respect and care for all people without prejudice or indifference. Some day I hope we can have a live interactive link so that we can actually have a more personal relationship with these brothers and sisters in our sister schools."

By the end of the year, the many small acts of sacrifice had added up into a considerable sum. With a few other fundraising activities, including a Hispanic festival day, Royal Palm Academy’s students raised over $3,100 for Luis and Karla’s education.

One Mano Amiga scholarship for a year of
The Altius Foundation: an effort to transform lives through charity.
The Altius Foundation: an effort to transform lives through charity.
education is $650. The students had provided two full scholarships, and the extra money was just the right amount to cover Luis’ medical expenses.

As the 2008-2009 school year begins, Royal Palm Academy’s students are ramping up for the campaign again. In fact, they will continue to sponsor Luis and Karla every year until the two children graduate as high school seniors.

One Campaign in the Midst of a War

The Change for Change campaign at Royal Palm Academy was a small but significant contribution to the larger battle that Altius is waging every day: the battle to effect a real and lasting transformation in the lives of those it helps.

In societies where education is scarce and social classes are more rigidly defined, it is often difficult for poor people to escape the cycle of poverty, even if they are naturally intelligent and talented. At the same time, there is the risk that charitable activities could just end up being hand-outs that solve temporary problems without truly changing hearts or societies.

So Altius strives to reach to the root by giving people the practical tools and the integral formation they need to break out of the cycle of poverty and lift their families up with them. Mano Amiga schools have been proven to work, and the success stories are legion. What is needed to multiply those success stories even more is sponsorship from individuals and schools who are interested in investing in someone else’s future.

To learn more about how you can help the Altius Foundation sponsor children from Mano Amiga schools, visit the Catholic World Mission web site at




Related links

Altius Foundation
Catholic World Mission
Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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