Eagle Valley students don hats to help ease hunger

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Mariah Whitcome, 13, donated $5 to send food and water to residents of a small Ecuadorian town suffering after the eruption of a nearby volcano.

"No matter how much you give, you know somehow you can help in some way," she said. "We have so much, we can give to them."

Whitcome was one of 11 students to help organize Friday's Eagle Valley Middle School's fundraiser " where fellow students donated $1 to wear a hat during the day " after their teacher visited Ecuador.

Science teacher Jackie Page, along with Empire Elementary School technology teacher LeAnn Morris, spent 10 days in January sharing information with an English-speaking school in Quito through a grant arranged by State Sen. Bill Raggio.

Page toured other parts of the country to bring back information for her Earth science students. She visited the Tungurahua volcano that erupted in 2006 and the nearby town of Banos that was stricken during the eruption.

Amid the poverty, however, she found generosity. She told of visiting one woman who had few possessions but milked her goat as soon as her visitors arrived to be able to give refreshment to her guests.

"The people's hearts were so big, and they were so kind," Page said. "We're spoiled here. We have so much. We don't understand what we have."

To help her students understand that, she made a video and brought it back to them.

Seeing children working in the streets made Lydia Lopez, 13, realize all she took for granted.

"We can get a free education here, while they have to pay a lot of money over there," she said. "It's a privilege."

Page is arranging for the 11 student volunteers to be in e-mail contact with students at Quito's Academia Cotopaxi, the school where she spent her time.

The academy is made up of the children of affluent members of the community as well as dignitaries and ambassadors.

Those students participate in several community service projects, including a hunger project to provide rice and bottled water to the residents of Banos.

Eagle Valley Middle School students raised more than $100 to supplement the Cotopaxi students' project.

Page said she hopes this is just the beginning of a partnership between her students and the South American project.

"They spent the money to send me down there, I want it to be more than just that 10 days," she said.

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