|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
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
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.|
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
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.
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.
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.|
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.”
Huckins, the school´s executive director,
|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
One Mano Amiga scholarship for a year of
|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
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.
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