Chandler’s Hancock Elementary School, home of the Heat, is an A+ school, as designated by the Arizona Education Foundation. The job of the teachers is to educate their students in the basics: to teach relatively simple concepts, to teach social skills, to teach children how to learn, to teach them age-appropriate lessons.
Yet, within their walls, some extraordinary things are happening outside the norm of elementary education. For instance, Katie Villaorduna, 6th grade teacher, recently took her students beyond the walls of the classroom to engage in global citizenship. She invited the Gilbert Rotary Club to come tell her class about an urgent need at the St. Bonaventure Mission outside of Gallup. They discovered that nearly 40% of families in the Navajo Nation don’t have hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower or a working flush toilet. Many more don’t have clean water that’s safe to drink. These people have to have the water delivered to them by truck and survive only on about seven gallons a day with which they use to drink, cook, bath and clean.
They learned that the Gilbert Rotary Club is working with the nonprofit organization Dig Deep to provide these families with home water systems … and the kids wanted to be a part.
The result was that her students led a school-wide fundraiser, “Dollars for the Dig,” to support the Gilbert Rotary Club’s effort to bring running water to Navajo Nation families in need. Hancock’s 6th graders worked diligently to spread the message by giving class presentations to the lower grades, doing school announcements and creating promotional posters they hung throughout the school.
Katie Villaorduna is an honorary member of the Sun Lakes Rotary Club, so she brought this need to them as well. The club was inspired by Hancock’s effort and offered to match the money raised up to $1,000. Then, recently, the students presented their program at a recent Sun Lakes Rotary meeting where the members were so moved that they donated an additional $440.
In just one week, Villaorduna’s 6th grade class raised $2,390.26, more than half the amount needed ($4,500), to purchase a sustainable, functioning home water system for one family on the Navajo Nation. To fully understand the project, an underground cistern is the main part to hold the water, but it will come with a pump, sink, solar panel, storage battery and all necessary connections in order to provide running water. If each family cistern is filled by a water truck twice a month, it will hold up to 1,200 gallons that will provide up to 20 gallons a day for a family of four.
Stop and think for a moment. If you knew that $20 or $10 or $5 would help provide water for a family for a lifetime, would you give it? Show the kids that you care, too. You can participate by visiting the Gilbert Rotary Club’s page at www.gilbertrotary.org/program-at-hancock-elementary/ or by sending your funds to Sun Lakes Rotary Club at P.O. Box 13094, Chandler, AZ 85248, marked “Navajo Nation Water.”