Milford Key Club students seek donations for biggest project yet
The nationally top ranked Jonathan Law High School Key Club is all about giving back to the community, and as members undertake their most ambitious service project yet, the student club is turning to the community for help.
The award-winning club is trying to raise $12,000 to build a well in Swaziland through the Thirst Project to bring clean water to a village where children sometimes have to walk five miles for it , missing school. Once villagers get the water, they must choose between bathing, watering crops or cooking.
The well means fewer residents of the village will suffer illness or death and be able to receive an education.
“This project to me is important. I have family in Puerto Rico and they don’t have as many resources,” said Key Club officer Angel Santiago. “When I want a drink I just go to the fountain. I don’t have to go eight hours for clean water.”
Student member and Key Club district officer Rohin Manohar, 16, has heard the stories of struggle and illness from his father, who grew up in the small, poverty ridden village of Tamilnadu in India.
Manohar, who carries a photograph on his phone of a river of brown there, taken on a recent visit, said the color is from mud, dung and feces. The well in Swaziland will reduce infant mortality by 88 percent, Manohar said.
The students and their adviser, Ted Boynton, admit it’s an ambitious undertaking — even in “The small city with the big heart” — but they’ll work hard fundraising until April when they hope to have the money in time for the national Key Club conference.
“I think this is a powerful cause for these young women and men to undertake,” Boynton said. “They’ve never let me down yet. These kids are the best of the best.”
There are 60 Key Club members at the school.
The fundraising planning is in the first stages and they began the campaign this week with a schoolwide assembly attended by the mayor and school officials, and a presentation by the Thirst Project.
The officers heard about the project at a district conference. The club, sponsored by Kiwanis, already does more than 50 projects per year and has helped in just about every major event: The Oyster Festival, Irish Festival, St. Mary’s Carnival, ushering, bell ringing for the Salvation Army from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The club also gives annual scholarships and rallies for the community in times of crisis or tragedy.
“It’s a global issue and even though we don’t suffer from it, we have to help out,” club member and officer Ronan O’Reilly, 17, said. “We have the opportunity to save lives and help people. We’ll be able to change lives.”
The teens said there are 663 million people in the world without clean water. Swaziland, they said, has the most HIV and AIDs in the world, as 26 percent of the population is directly affected. Pathogens in the water weaken the immune system of villagers, they said.
Boynton said the $151 collected after the school wide assembly — loose change and small amounts — will be enough alone to save six lives.
The members said they are looking for sponsors in the business community, donations from residents, and any kind of support from the local business community such as food donations for events, gift cards and other items for raffles. They are considering a walkathon.
“Any donations are welcome,” said Santiago, who made a short fundraising video.
To donate, contact Boynton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-783-3574, ext. 6215.