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Pancakes for water in Tanzania

March 15, 2015

by Molly-Kate Webster

A pancake breakfast and garage sale to raise money to build a well in Tanzania, Africa took place Saturday morning at the Pine Hills Elementary School.

The project to build a well was established in memory of Mary Stella Greco, the aunt of a teacher at the school. The fundraisers charged $5 for pancakes, sausage and juice and ran from 8 a.m. until noon.

Third grade teacher Deann Lynch is spearheading the project in memory of her late aunt who passed away in December of 2013. Lynch said that the school principal came to her with the idea of the well project because of all of the work Greco did in communities in impoverished countries.

Greco was a missionary in Guatemala for most of her life and built many wells in communities there. Lynch is working with two organizations – African Reflections and The Sky is Not Limited – to help with the service learning project.

The school has raised almost $8,000 and Lynch wants to raise $15,000 in total. She said that the project will be completed in two years, or before she retires, even if she has to write the check herself.

Community members are excited about the well fund and said it is an opportunity for students to learn about people in other countries. Rebecca Zimmerman has two first graders who go to Pine Hills Elementary and they bring their cans and bottles every week to the school to donate.

Jonna and Kailas get their pancakes/Molly-Kate Webster

Jonna and Kailas get their pancakes/Molly-Kate Webster

Lynch and Michelle Chiappone have put a model well in the main office for people to donate much like a wishing well. Zimmerman’s son Kailas says that the project is real cool and that he has even seen people drop dollars into the well.

Students who began the project came out to support the pancake breakfast. Fifth grader Lydia Green said that she was the first group to work on the well project. Back then the community didn’t know as much as they know now and they are excited about where it is going.

“It is pretty amazing that little kids could raise this much money,” said Green. Along side her mom Carol Green they enjoyed their hot pancakes and Lydia even picked up a play horse from the garage sale.

Green said that when the project was just getting started Lydia would scour the neighborhood to find bottles and cans to bring to school. If students brought in 10 bottles and cans they received a homework pass. Green said that it is a great experience for the kids to learn more about others.

First grade teacher Justin Gallo said that it is important to teach students that there are people out there who have no water.

“I was recently in the Dominican Republic and that showed me first hand the people who don’t have water out there,” said Gallo. “ It’s nice to come to school everyday to see how well people are working together.”

The school is working to show students that not everyone has running water. While building the well and raising money is the main purpose of the well project it is also teaching students that not everyone has what we have. Second grade teacher Alyssa Smith said that most of the donations for the event came from local businesses and the teachers.

Community Members shop the garage sale/ Molly-Kate Webste

Community Members shop the garage sale/ Molly-Kate Webste

“Teachers have a lot of stuff,” said Smith. Most of the donations for the garage sale part of the event and the food portion came from local businesses like Price Chopper and Shop Rite. Smith says that they are always trying to help out the local community. This is a different way to help out those in need in a different part of the world.

Lynch and Chiappone said that they only plan on building one well in Tanzania. They are hoping to build a relationship with the community in Tanzania so they can create other programs out of the relationship like a pen pal program.

The school continues to take donations for the well project. Contributors may drop off cans and bottles in support of the project at Mike’s Beverage in Colonie for the Pine Hills Well Fund.

“Every little bit starts adding up,” said Lynch. -30-

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