Zambian school a priority for youth | SteamboatToday.com

Zambian school a priority for youth

Middle School holding fundraisers, SSHS grad to deliver funds

Melinda Mawdsley

— The letters take six weeks to arrive in Steamboat Springs via mail from Zambia, but the excitement isn’t outdated.

“They all want to know when I’m coming back,” Lennae Jenkins said.

If Jenkins, a 2002 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, has her way, she will return to Chimfunshi, Zambia, in May toting money and supplies to help start a much-desired school.

The Steamboat Springs Mid-

dle School Student Council is helping by staging a series of fundraisers and a school supplies drive.

All the money raised and all the supplies collected will go toward the students’ goal of building a school in Zambia.

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Jenkins taught outdoor education this summer at a wildlife orphanage in Chimfunshi. There, Jenkins familiarized herself with the educational obstacles facing residents of the remote African town.

The nearest school is 22 kilometers away. Jenkins said the residents of Chimfunshi were extremely excited when she told them about her plans to build a school.

Several middle school students’ ears perked up during Jenkins’ presentation at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs.

“We brought it to the school because we thought we could help,” said eighth-grader Kendall McGill.

Two years ago, the middle school raised money to help victims of the Asian tsunami. Last year, victims of Hurricane Katrina were on the minds of local youth. This year, the middle school students want to help children and adults who can’t help themselves.

“We are a ‘School of Excellence,'” middle school teacher and student council sponsor Johnny Walker said. “I think things like this are a reason why.”

The student council meets at 7:40 a.m. every Tuesday to shape ideas to help. The school is holding a dance today. The middle school also is holding a “penny drive” and a school supplies collection.

The student council has turned the “penny drive” into a competition among the three grades to promote school spirit and earn more money.

Simz Antiques, a shop with handpicked estate items and other antiques bought in Europe, is donating a portion of its sales from Friday through Monday to the middle school’s fundraising drive.

The shop is at 1920 Ski Time Square Drive.

Ben and Jerry’s will be serving ice cream and light refreshments will be on hand Saturday. Dos Amigos, Chocolate Soup, Market on the Mountain, City Market, Styling in Steamboat and Lincoln Avenue Printers also are helping Jenkins and the middle school students with their fundraiser.

Jenkins is hoping to raise $20,000, which would fund a native teacher’s salary, school supplies, general operating expenses and a plane ticket for her return. She plans on teaching English and serving as the bookkeeper for the first year.

Before the Zambian Ministry of Education will support a school, a community needs to demonstrate a need and desire to have a school for one or two years, Jenkins said.

The adults and children of Chimfunshi want to go to school, and Americans can help because the dollar goes far in Africa. The school’s operating cost is just $75 a day.

Donations can be delivered to the middle school by contacting Walker at 871-3569. A tax-deductible check can be made out to the SSMS Student Council – Chimfunshi account.