Elementary students in Snohomish collect to help children in Uganda

SNOHOMISH — The Little Cedars Elementary School drive aimed to collect as many items as possible to help children in Uganda was a big success.

Fourth-graders Jalen O’Connell and Lily Downs wanted to give more to the nonprofit Sister Schools besides the toys and clothes they had outgrown.

So they gave $60 to help children they don’t know.

“It makes me feel proud that I have been able to help somebody,” said Jalen, 9.

Jalen had $9 from her mother and $6 that she saved for a month. Instead of spending it on toys, Jalen wanted to help the Children’s Hospital in Seattle, but decided to give it to Sisters Schools because there was a greater need, she said.

Lily had saved the other $45 for a year.

“I was trying to save for something important,” Lily, 9, said.

Helping others was the main lesson the Seattle-based nonprofit wanted to teach the 750 students. The nonprofit aims to teach local children that they can make a difference in the world. At the same time, it helps children in Uganda with supplies and other items.

Founder Terry McGill gave a presentation about his nonprofit during a school assembly at the beginning of the school year. He invited all students to help by bringing supplies, books, and clothes.

The response surprised even McGill.

Last week, he returned to the school to pick up the donations and to take pictures of the students. In total, there were about 1,500 pounds of donations, most of them school supplies.

“Everything was of great quality. They probably were one of our best schools this year,” McGill said.

There were 15 schools participating in the drive. Little Cedars was the only school in Snohomish County; most were from Seattle and Shoreline.

Little Cedar’s drive ended in September, but the nonprofit is collecting from other schools until the beginning of December, McGill said.

The goal is to fill a 40-foot-long container that is scheduled to arrive in Uganda in April. McGill then plans to go to 20 schools and 10 orphanages in the country to distribute the donations. He will photograph the children and go back to each participating school, so the students can see the effect they had, McGill said.

McGill founded Sisters Schools in 1988, but this was the first time Little Cedars participated.

The school usually organizes a fundraiser to help the community, but the level of participation surprised Principal Becky Brockman.

“It was one of those rare opportunities where everyone got involved,” Brockman said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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