May 3, 1999
Doug Meckling's five seventh-grade social studies classes at Timbercrest Jr. High received a plaque last Wednesday, April 28, commemorating their humanitarian fundraising efforts to send educational supplies and cash to schools in Sierra Leone, Africa. Paul Sobeich, executive director of Water for People, flew from the international aid organization's headquarters in Denver to present the award.
"I was amazed that these kids brought in $3,700 in one week," said Meckling. "Forty dollars pays one student's education for an entire year in Sierra Leone, the poorest country in the world. The kids brought in lots of tennis shoes, soccer balls, and other athletic and school supplies. They are being stored in a PTA member's garage until September, when Walter Backstrom will take them to Sierra Leone."
Meckling said he got his students interested in the project after seeing a Woodinville Weekly article last summer featuring trips to Sierra Leone by Backstrom, a Woodinville Water District commissioner.
"Since then, we've had a visit from local Sierra Leone immigrants who showed us slides of the poor living conditions there. We also had a talk by Chris Clark of Poulsbo, who runs the Christian charity organization "Children of the Nations." Chris has a Sierra Leone boy living with his family. He brought slides and artifacts he collected during several trips to Sierra Leone. The students were very moved by the slides they saw and through pen pals they have written to there."