Freshmen Taylor McPherson and Esme Christou spent a Sunday at Stanford University’s d. school learning how to use design thinking to solve local and global problems. Girls Driving for a Difference led their original Find Your Drive program in the morning and then led the girls through an afternoon of action planning with their new Make Your Mark workshop. Taylor and Esme led a group working on solving the unjust and cruel conditions in prisons.
BY AVA CRAWFORD
In order to provide clean drinking water to people without access, Carmel High School’s This Club Saves Lives raised $3,000 for the Thirst Project to build wells in Swaziland through a sold- out dinner fundraiser, the Thirst Gala, on Oct. 27 at the CHS performing arts center.
The Thirst Project, a nonpro t or- ganization dedicated to building wells where there is limited access to safe drinking water, hosts their red-carpet Thirst Gala every year in Hollywood where the group raises 20 percent of its funding for water projects.
Carmel High’s own Thirst Gala is a dinner consisting of salad, pasta and bread served by teachers, who also en- tertain the attendees. The club has put on their own gala for CHS students since 2014, selling 150 tickets for $20 each, raising roughly $3,000 year.
“The club pretty much came about because of the Thirst Gala,” club advisor Leigh Cambra says. “It was how we were inspired to start the club.”
In addition to Swaziland, where This Club donates every year via the Thirst Project, the nonpro t also builds wells in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, Uganda and El Salvador.
This year, the club received donations of pasta from Gusto’s, Vesuvio, Nicole’s Catering, Pasta Palate, Sarah LaCasse Catering and Rancho Canada.
“We get salad mix donated from Taylor Farms,” Cambra says. “Pebble Beach Company lets us use their plates and silverware, and they wash it. I think it’s great that there are restaurants that are willing to give food to support this cause.”
Thirst Project builds 95 percent of their wells in Swaziland, where one well costs $12,000. The most expensive wells are built in Kenya for $20,000, and the least expensive are in Uganda for $8,000. “Everything you submit, it’s all go- ing to the wells,” says Evan Wesley, vice president of student activation for the Thirst Project. “Last year, we had around 500 schools donate.”
Thousands of schools across the U.S. raise money for the Thirst Proj- ect through various fundraisers, like the gala. All public donations to Thirst Project go directly to building the wells, while all operating expenses are covered by the organization’s donors.
As of October 2017, Thirst Project has completed 920 water projects.
Science teacher Jason Maas-Baldwin playing guitar for students at the event.
This Club Saves Lives, a philanthropic club at Carmel High School, hosted Family House’s second toiletry drive during the two weeks before October break, though its success drastically decreased compared to last year’s.
A big donation box was left in three freshman teachers’ classrooms, encouraging students to drop off any toiletries from travel size shampoo and conditioner to toothbrushes and toothpastes. After the two weeks, only 300 items were collected, signi cantly less than the 3,000 collected the previous year.
Health teacher and club advisor Leigh Cambra speculates that these results are due to the lack of excitement predominantly fueled by 2017 CHS grad Caroline Mierzwa, an intern at Family House.
“Last year, it was new and different,” Cambra says. “People had somebody on campus that was super passionate about it.”
Furthermore, natural disasters such as the hurricanes in Texas and Florida and res in California distracted This Club Saves Lives members by having them put more energy into supporting victims affected by these disasters and not enough into publicizing and encouraging the toiletry drive.
Unlike last year, when a van of students drove up to San Francisco to personally deliver the donations, Cambra plans on mailing them.
Thank you for another successful Thirst Gala! We raised over $3,000 for the Thirst Project. Over 150 students dined on amazing pasta donated by area restaurants, salad from Taylor Farms, bread, and sundaes served to them by the Carmel High School staff.
Thank you to our sponsors: Taylor Farms, Safeway, Nicole’s Catering, Sarah LaCasse Catering, Gusto’s Pasta & Pizza, Vesuvio, and Pasta Palate.
Every February This Club Saves Lives completes the WE Are Love campaign by making Valentines for the entire school and hanging them up around campus.
We were featured on the WE Stories blog: Put Some Heart In It:
Students turn to positivity and small acts of kindness to bring their school closer together.
BY AMY VAN ES
Twelve students, 900 paper hearts and big change.
For the students at Carmel High School in California, a lot of heart is exactly what it took to make their first WE Schools campaign come to life.
“WE are Love is one of the first projects we took on,” begins Leigh Cambra, a health teacher and WE Schools leader. An action campaign centered on sharing positivity and lifting others, it was a simple way for them to get their feet wet with students creating handmade cards, marked with notes of compassion for friends, family and neighbors.
“We’re a small school and this campaign didn’t cost us much money, so we [knew] it was something we could handle,” says Leigh. All it took was $11.99 worth of colored paper—“pink, red and purple to represent love!”—from a local office supplies store and a few pairs of borrowed scissors.
The students (then just a group of 12) were eager to put their own spin on the campaign. In the end, they would print and cut out 900 heart-shaped pieces of paper—one for every student in the school—and write a personal note to each. “We met up the night before Valentine’s Day and put them all over the school,” recalls the educator. “So when [students] showed up [the next morning] there were hearts all over the place, and the kids all knew one belonged to them!”
Fun as this all sounds, it wasn’t an easy task getting this campaign off the ground. In fact, it took the group more than a month of meetings just to cut all the hearts!
“It didn’t cost anything, but it gave us such value,” she recalls. “You never know what kind of difference you can make in someone’s day. It’s nice for the kids in the group to give back and do something for everyone else, but it’s also nice for the rest of the students.”
The impact Carmel’s WE club has been able to affect in the school is wonderful, with kids sticking their WE are Love notes on binders and lockers as a reminder that they’re appreciated. As Leigh is quick to point out, though, it’s the students who may not speak out about the campaign that were likely touched the most. “You’ll never know how much it affected them,” she says warmly. “Some kids will never share their notes with others, but it really makes them feel included in the school community.”
Working with teens, the educator is aware of how cliques can divide a school and is grateful to have found a way to bring all her students together. “They’re all so segregated. The clubs they’re in, the classes they take, the friends they hang out with,” she says. “It’s great to have one combined experience and show we care for each other even if we don’t know them. We’re all here together.”
Today, Carmel’s WE club boasts 60 members. “We’re the biggest club on campus now,” exclaims Leigh. Fully grown and ready to take on more campaigns, the club doesn’t plan on leaving behind its first success as change-makers. It would disappoint the student body, after all; as the educator laughs, people will be looking forward to their hearts “every year now.”
In February a bridge in Big Sur collapsed, stranding families on the south side and limiting their ability to drive to town or even work. In an effort to provide any assistance to CUSD families living on the south side, a group of students led by Chantal Gonzalez and Caroline Mierzwa worked on getting donations and finding out what supplies the families needed. We figured out the best thing to do was buy the supplies and hike them UP the newly created trail. We ended up taking seven trips over 7 months until the bridge was replaced and opened in October. These trips allowed students and staff not living in Big Sur to get a glimpse of Big Sur life while also helping out the families. Thank you to everyone who donated, shopped, and hiked. We had many return trippers because once you did the trip once you wanted to go again.
April 20, May 4, May 16, May 30, June 27, August 29, and September 26, 2017
Congratulation to Caroline Mierzwa on her selection as a KSBW Jefferson Award winner.