January 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Tsunami: Chester Daily Local Online,: Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School to partner wth Peace Corps to provide Tsunami aid in Thailand

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Thailand: Special Report: 2004 - Tsunami hits Southeast Asia: January 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Tsunami: Chester Daily Local Online,: Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School to partner wth Peace Corps to provide Tsunami aid in Thailand

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Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School to partner wth Peace Corps to provide Tsunami aid in Thailand

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School  to partner wth Peace Corps to provide Tsunami aid in Thailand

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School to partner wth Peace Corps to provide Tsunami aid in Thailand

Students raise money to rebuild school in Thailand
JESSICA M. McRORIE, Staff Writer
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For Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Principal Dennis Brown, it was very clear what his students could do to help and connect with children affected by the aftermath of tsunamis that struck southeast Asia and parts of Africa -- help them repair or rebuild a school.

Brown, whose brother, Scott Brown, was a member of the Peace Corps, said he was inspired by his sibling to work with the organization that is currently in Thailand assessing what projects to take on.

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The first day back to his office after the natural disaster, Dennis Brown e-mailed administrators and the parent-teacher organization, or PTO, to enlist their support of the organization.

"I really felt we had an obligation to do something," said Brown.

The school raised more than $600 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during an event at Ice Line, an ice rink in West Goshen. And currently, students are bringing in pocket change for "Coins for Care."

Brown is hoping the school will ultimately raise $5,000 to $8,000.

"I would like to raise it as soon as I can," he said.

Brown sees the effort as a long-term relationship that will go beyond raising money for a short period of time. He said the decision is challenging because the Peace Corps has not yet selected any school to repair or rebuild.

"We are not really sure how it will end up, but we are sure it is going in the right direction," said Brown.

It could be three or four months before those projects are selected, he said. It is important that the current effort to help the tsunami victims be maintained into the future, he said.

Fourth-grade student Zach Watkins is enthusiastic about helping out children who may not have a school.

"I think it feels good to help out other people because school is the most important thing," said Watkins.

Fifth-grade student Heather Messa said when she helps raise money for the project, she feels like she has accomplished something.

"I think it is good that kids are helping out other kids," said Heather.

Fourth-grader TK Keenan said he thought the project was "cool" because the school is able to help out other people in need.

"If you are helping out others, you feel good at the end of the day," TK said.

In order to build the studentsí sense of awareness, the school discussed the fund-raising project with the children during an assembly, said Brown.

"We talked to them about how fortunate we were," he said. And he explained that they were going to help out other children whose school is gone, he said.

The elementary school, which has more than 450 students, is part of the West Chester Area School District.

Kathleen MacKenzie, PTO co-president, said the idea of raising money to build or restore a school is easily translatable to the students and something that it appealing to them.

"Knowing that it is specifically for a rebuilding of a school is why I am so excited about it," said MacKenzie.

In addition to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the "Coins for Care" fund-raisers, the school is planning to work with Benniganís on Route 202, which will donate 10 percent of its profits between 4 and 8 p.m. on both Feb. 2 and 3, she said.

"We are hoping for Benniganís to be a big night," said MacKenzie.

The school is also looking for other businesses to partner with, she said.

"We are always open to new ideas," she said. "We are counting on the community."

Other ideas include hosting a garage sale where all of the profits will go toward the effort, she said.

Brown said he wanted to partner with the Peace Corps because he knows the connection the group makes with local people when it takes on a project. It usually asks the local community to provide 25 percent of the project cost either through labor or materials.

However, in light of the recent devastation, it may waive that requirement, he said.

Scott Brown has been with the Peace Corps for more than seven years, said Dennis Brown. He recently finished working with the organization and is now working at a mission in South America.

Both of the brothers are graduates of Great Valley High School.

In addition to other schools around the county that are raising money for tsunami victims, other schools in the West Chester Area School District are raising money to help the victims of the tsunamis in a variety of ways.

The district has donated money to UNICEF, the Red Cross, Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, and Save the Children Foundation.

At Penn Wood Elementary School, children are donating their chore money toward tsunami relief. As of Jan. 20, $350 had been raised.

At Exton and Starkweather elementary schools, students are raising money for "School in a Box" kits available through UNICEF. Each kit sells for $188 and holds basic education supplies for 80 children.

Exton students were permitted to wear pajama bottoms to school on Jan. 14 in exchange for a $1 contribution. At Glen Acres Elementary School, students donated $1 for the privilege to wear a hat during the school day.

Mary C. Howse Elementary and Peirce Middle School students are both selling bracelets to raise funds. Mary C. Howse bracelets read "Tsunami Relief" while the Peirce bracelets read "Whatever It Takes."

Parents at Mary C. Howse are organizing an art auction for Feb. 25 featuring fine art, collectibles and sports memorabilia with the help of Ross Galleries LLC.

©Daily Local News 2005

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Chester Daily Local Online,

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Thailand; Tsunami



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