Kremmling seventh-grader raises more than $1,000 for schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan
May 19, 2008
A West Grand seventh-grader is doing what she can to help children half a world away in war-torn and poverty-stricken Afghanistan and Pakistan.Thirteen-year-old Katie Sanford, the daughter of Stephanie and Don Sanford of Kremmling, organized and led the Pennies for Peace fundraising campaign at the West Grand PK-8 School. Through her initiative and perseverance, a total of $1,114.80 was collected.A check for that amount has been sent to the Pennies For Peace Program based in Bozeman, Mont. The money will be used to build a one- or two-room schoolhouse in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan that will help 200 to 300 children get an education.Many of those kids have to walk for miles to go to school, but at least theyll have a roof and four walls, Sanford said. Up until now, they were trying to learn outside, using sticks to draw in the dirt.Sanford got the idea about building the school from a book that her teacher Paula Martin spoke about in to her gifted-and-talented class at the PK-8 School. The book, which is a New York Times bestseller, is Three Cups of Tea: One Mans Mission to Promote Peace. . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea is the story of Mortenson, who was nursed back to health in 1992 by villagers in a remote Pakistani village after his failed attempt to climb K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Wanting to return the kindness that he had received, he saw the children of the villagers needed a school and he promised to return to build them one.Mortenson not only kept that promise but began what turned into a personal mission that has lasted for the past 15 years to build other schools in the desperately poor border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Raising funds here in America and surviving death threats and a kidnapping by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mortenson has overseen the work that has resulted in the building of 55 schools that are educating more than 20,000 children. Mortensons premise is that education will conquer terrorism, Martin said. By educating children, it makes it harder for terrorist organizations like the Taliban to recruit people.After Martin had talked about the book in her gifted-and-talented class, Sanford said she then saw a display about the book and Mortensons Pennies For Peace Program at a bookstore in Silverthorne. The coincidence of those two events made her want to join Mortensons effort to help build schools for Central Asian children.It all kind of came together at once for me, Sanford said. I was really inspired when I learned what Mortenson was doing. It made me want to start a Pennies For Peace fundraiser at my school.Approaching her teacher Mrs. Martin about the idea, Sanford began organizing the fundraising campaign. We had just moved into our own new school in January, so this really fit, Martin said. Katie is such a go-getter and she really did this on her own. She kept pursuing it and she organized everything. Sanford put together collection cans and distributed them in the PK-8 Schools classrooms and at local businesses. She went to each classroom and gave a speech explaining how much the money would help other children in a faraway land. She also showed her fellow students a DVD movie provided by the Pennies For Peace organization about its work to build the schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the money came in, Sanford took the cash to Grand Mountain Bank in Kremmling to have it counted and kept in an account. West Grands Pennies For Peace campaign began at the end of March and reached its goal of collecting over $1,000 in early May. On Thursday, May 8, Sanford was able to send a check to Mortensons nonprofit organization. To help motivate her fellow PK-8 students to join in the fundraising campaign, Sanford promised a pizza party to the class that raised the most money. Last Tuesday, May 13, the sixth grade students of Mrs. Shawn Davis enjoyed the pizzas donated by Ken Bentler, the owner of the Rocky Mountain Bar & Grill in Kremmling. Sanford also plans to bake cookies and give them to Leslie Crosbys fifth grade class, who raised the most money among the schools elementary students.With the success of her first fundraising project, Sanford said she may conduct another Pennies for Peace campaign next school year.Its a good thing to help kids that dont have the opportunities that we have here, she said.