Collier High School Students Support Orphans of AIDS Victims in Swaziland through Community Service Projects
In December, the Service Learning Committee, supervised by Collier educator Bev Mercer, hosted its bi-annual Turnaround Sale. Collier students and staff members purchased new or gently used clothes, accessories, and houseware donated by their peers. Students made the decision to donate proceeds from the sale to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Additionally, students are donating the remaining items to the Bridge Community Church in Swaziland with the help of Swaziland Relief. The mission of Swaziland Relief is to provide short-term and long-term relief to orphans of AIDS victims. Outreach projects in Swaziland include health clinics, schools, clean water sources, and small business mentorship.
Mary Spano, a longtime friend of Collier Youth Services and an active member with Swaziland Relief, describes her experience with Swaziland Relief as “heartwarming and heartbreaking.” Spano continues, “I was so touched by the faith of these people, especially given the poverty I witnessed. Children fortunate to be able to go to school walk there, barefoot, for miles. Mothers are starving and not able to supplement their newborns with formula. Yet, they continue to have such strong beliefs, even though our visits are just once a year.”
For Collier High School students, the small act of donating items builds confidence by offering an opportunity to see the direct impact of their positive behavior. As Spano points out, “Through the strength and love of our friends on American soil, we have done miraculous work on behalf of Swaziland Relief. I personally see healthy children growing stronger and smarter every year.
After learning about the continued needs of Swaziland residents, Collier High School’s Service Learning Committee decided to extend its collection effort. Students will gather additional clothes and shoes of all sizes, which will be sent overseas in May 2017. Spano lauds the Collier High School students for their tangible contributions to those in need.
“Through the leadership of Collier High School’s Service Learning Committee, hundreds of pounds of clothing have been collected,” Spano states. “Funds helped purchase items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes. Students have helped prepare our 40-foot container by sorting and packing supplies. It’s been a tremendous partnership over the past nine years.”
As Sister Debbie Drago, Executive Director of Collier Youth Services, shares, “I am incredibly proud of our Collier High School students for recognizing the tremendous needs around the world and deciding they could do something to make a positive change. They took action, galvanized our Collier community, and educated us about Swaziland Relief. Our students have volunteered their time to perform a wonderful service for those less fortunate.”