…more on Empathy.

Friday night I camped out at the school with 49 students, each raising a minimum of $50- to earn the opportunity to sleep over at the school. We hosted a 24 hour famine to raise money for our Me to We Club… we are fundraising to build a school in Sierra Leone.

It was fun, and it was exhausting! Three and a half hours of broken sleep… and totally worth it! Some things didn’t quite go as planned, but overall it was a huge success. I’ve done many 30 Hour Famine‘s for World Vision, but this year I wanted the fundraiser to coincide with our school goal of $15,000.00 to build and help supply the Sierra Leone school. The famine itself is a great way to give the students an experience that many kids around the world are ‘inflicted’ with: Hunger!

So, I could go on about the kids that snuck junk food in, and indulged… or how these same girls were disrespectful to the female teacher that helped me out, (something I still have to follow up on Monday), but instead, I want to highlight empathy and compassion. So, enjoy a few tales of the next generation doing good.

Callie: She didn’t collect any money. I saw her leaving the school on Friday and said to her, “I thought this would be something that you would want to do?” Her response: “I wanted to Mr. Truss but I just couldn’t ask anyone else for money.” You see, we just finished a fundraiser selling boxes of chocolate bars – 15 bars in a box, $30 a box. My class sold 16 boxes, Callie on her own sold 22. I gave her a permission slip and where it said ‘you must collect a minimum of $50-‘ I added “^ or sell 22 boxes of chocolates… Wow!” You should have been there to see the smile on her face.

Reed: (He sold two boxes of chocolates) “Mr. Truss, I can’t ask anyone else for a donation, I’m just going to donate $50 myself so that I can come. I can afford it.” He ended up donating $85… basically he got $35 in pledges but kept his personal donation at 50.

Sadey and Misha: For the second year in a row they raised $150 each. While some students just got their parents to write a cheque for $50, these girls collected money 1, 2 or 5 dollars at a time.

Braden: As he handed me his required $50 on Wednesday, “I don’t get paid until the weekend, can I donate more after the famine?”

Nicole and Ian: They couldn’t sleep over at the school, but still chose to collect money anyway.

Alexandra: We only had one grade 6 girl in attendance. I saw Alexandra from my (Grade 8) class talking to her when everyone was arriving. I asked her if she new the girl and she said yes. I said do you mind making sure this girl feels included? Her response, “Oh, of course!”

Andy & Carleigh: They are the backbone to our Me to We club. They both plan to go to the Leaders Today Take Action! Academy this summer run by Free the Children. They are two young kids who are thoughtful and compassionate. They are, and they will continue, making the world a better place!

Empathy may not be part of the curriculum, but it certainly can be encouraged in school… by teachers and students alike!

(A Tribute: By Metaphor on Flickr)

Originally posted: April 20th, 2007

Reflection upon re-reading and re-posting:

Our school surpassed our goal and raised almost $17,000.

I think this post goes well beyond talking about empathy, and students caring for others. It also speaks of the potential of our next generation.

– – – – –

Take a look at the news and you will see the worst-of-the-worst teens today have to offer… swarming/mugging/stabbing/drunk driving/stealing… it is enough to make you sick and think that all is lost for the next generation.

Why aren’t stories of compassion and hope front page news? Why must a mad lost soul who slaughters innocent children in a school shooting be the feature of in-depth reports while the victims are portrayed by still pictures and weeping loved ones?

News editors and journalists don’t give our wonderful students enough credit and enough accolades! We spend hours telling students how much they are valued and appreciated in schools, then they go into the ‘real world’ where they are portrayed so poorly by mass media.

Why is it that front-page scandals, sex and slaughters sells papers while compassion, caring and community are condensed into one feel-good article on page 15?

If we, as a society, want the next generation to meet their potential, do we not need to show them what we value in our global village?

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