In September of 2014, Dallas became famous around the world for its role in the Ebola outbreak. Before long, students, parents and teachers involved with the Moss Haven Elementary Beta Club decided they wanted to find a way help. The created a service project video – a take off on the We Are the World recording for Africa written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie in 1985 and produced by Quincy Jones.
You can watch the video here.
The video quickly raised $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders, and last week at the Texas Junior Beta Club State Convention it won 3rd prize and qualified to go to nationals in June. More importantly, the students learned some valuable lessons.
“Individually, we can make a difference,” says 6th grader Zoe Rose, “but when we come together, we can make an even bigger difference. One video made over ten thousand dollars. I learned that fundraising made me feel good inside – and that I wasn’t such a bad singer.”
“We are lucky to live in such a great country,” agrees Asher Thompson, also in 6th grade. “The entire world isn’t like the United States. This project helped me learn how to come together and do something to help other people. That was a great experience for me. Beta Club is about service to others, and this project was a unique and fun, yet serious, opportunity to serve others who live far away but who have real and serious needs.”
Helping the students were moms Skye McDonald MacLaren and Jenny King, PTA Chairs for Beta Club, and Sharon Kirkpatrick, a team mom who produced and edited the video.
“I asked one of the dads at Moss Haven, Ricky Wolking of Thrillogy Entertainment, if he could help us with recording,” explains Kirkpatrick. “He got one of his buddies, Alex Gerst from Empire Sound Studios, to cut the track for us. The kids had a great time, but it was a lot of hard work with many takes.”
Even while they were enjoying the experience of being “rock stars,” say parent volunteers, there was more to the lesson than just fun.
“We chose this project as a way to demonstrate that we care about world issues and children far away from us who are living in crisis,” says King. “We also wanted to do something to help our kids take control of the fear they were feeling from the Dallas Ebola outbreak that had so many questions surrounding it. Also, Mr. Duncan [the Ebola victim] and his surviving family lived so close to our neighborhood. Rather than succumbing to irrational fear, we took control by starting this fundraising project.”
“At the heart of this project were young kids caring about other kids halfway around the world who were sick. They learned that they could transform their fear and helplessness about the Ebola crisis into actively working to make the situation better. They made a positive change in a very desperate situation, which taught them that they matter and have power to truly make a difference. A byproduct of this project was also the lesson that serving others is actually a gift to the giver as well.”
If you’d like to add to their total, it’s not too late. You can donate to Doctors Without Borders here.