For the second year in a row student's at Downingtown West High School raised money for the non-profit organization, Invisible Children. Invisible Children helps students in northern Uganda, focusing largely on education and rehabilitation of war-affected areas. The students are members of a club called Generation 4 Africa and this year the club joined forces with the Art Department and the Family and Consumer Sciences Department to host an Empty Bowl Dinner. More than 200 beautiful ceramic bowls of all shapes, sizes and colors were made by students and staff and were available with the purchase of a ticket.African and Asia studies teacher Shelley Francies and art teacher Annette Lupoli advise the students and help run the club.
"The students are aware of the issues facing Africa and Asia's youth and wanted to do something to help," said Francies."These kids have a passion and understanding for what is going on across the world."
Francies, along with two students, traveled to Uganda last year on a three week tour of the country.
"We stayed in refugee homes and got to see the schools and students that our money was going to help," said Francies.
The student responsible for spreading awareness about the situation in Africa and Asia and inspiring her peers to get involved is senior Miranda Okuniewski.
"I wanted to be a part of something in the school that helped the world globally," said Okuniewski."This club helps build a bridge between two countries."
Okuniewski, who wants to major in international studies in college, was one of the students who traveled to Uganda with Francies.
"Traveling to the schools and meeting the actual kids that our money helped was the most rewarding part. It has been a life-changing experience," said Okuniewski.
A club that began with 10 students is now 150 strong.
"I wanted to inspire my peers to become a part of something that is going to change the world," proclaimed Okuniewski.
Another active member of the club, senior Kelsey Taylor, said the sheer fact that these kids deep down are just like us however, they are not lucky enough to experience the freedoms America has to offer motivated her to get involved.
"These kids have nothing and it's appalling to see. I wanted to do something to help, " said Taylor.
Even the younger generation wanted to get involved and help their peers halfway around the world. Sara Korsansky, a fourth grader at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School, saw children in Africa suffering while surfing the internet and wanted to do something to help them. Shannon O' Dwyer, a fourth grader at Uwchlan Hills, also wanted to help.
The girls conjured up the idea to sell homemade Valentine cards.
Barbara Norris heads the Gifted program at Uwchlan Hills and commented that it took the students four months to make the Valentines.
"Having the feeling of helping other kids through making Valentines is what it's all about, " said Norris.
Half of the proceeds from the Valentines go to the Invisible Children's "Schools for Schools" program and the other half goes to the Chester County Homeless Children's Initiative. "I just hope that this event is a success, " said Korsansky.
"Last year we raised 24, 381.93 for Invisible Children's 'Schools for Schools' program in five months, " said Francies.
"So far this year the club has raised $22, 000 and hopes to surpass last year's donations.
Francies commented that Downingtown West High School is top in the country in collecting donations for the organization out of 1, 000 high schools in the United States.