Spirit of generosity makes local holidays brighter for many
By Marcy Stamper
It’s Thanksgiving in the Methow Valley — an occasion not only for giving thanks, but also for giving.
Thanks to local music students, families around the world will get geese, rabbits, honeybees and a goat — a source of both food and income. Closer to home, people will get a holiday meal of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie fixings, plus everything from peanut butter to pasta to pickles to fill their cupboards. And kids from Methow to Mazama will get specially selected gifts for the holidays.
About 30 students at the Pipestone School of Music had a novel motivation to practice in October — each time they practiced, they put a handful of change in a jar. At the end of the month, the kids had raised about $280 — enough to purchase the goat and other farm animals through Heifer International.
“The students learned about a variety of animals and how they help families that are struggling and do not have enough to eat,” said Rebecca Shoup, whose daughter Mira studies violin at Pipestone. “The students learned that ducks are regarded as constant providers, as they are widely eaten and the eggs can be sold to help pay for medicine and school fees.” The students took a vote to choose the animals they wanted to purchase.
Heifer’s approach is to help bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty by providing food and reliable income from milk, eggs and honey.
Keeley Brooks tries to practice her violin every day, but she said the fundraising drive provided extra motivation. She decided she would contribute 50 cents a day and put $15 in the jar at the end of the month. Violinist Lena Nelson dropped change in her jar every day, and then added even more at the end.
The fundraising campaign is part of the philosophy of the Suzuki method, which doesn’t view music in isolation but stresses overall character development, said Pipestone music teacher Pam Hunt. “We talk often in lessons about how learning to play music can benefit ourselves, our family, our community and the world,” said Hunt.
Kids were encouraged to put in extra change after a particularly successful practice session. “That was my plan — to get practice on their radar,” said Hunt.
Many Pipestone students already knew about Heifer International because Liberty Bell High School students raised money for the group last year. They used their $1,000 to buy a water buffalo, a cow and a goat.
This year, students in the Liberty Bell leadership class and on the school’s betterment committee are focusing on clean drinking water as their annual global initiative, said Rebecca Thomson, family and consumer sciences teacher at Liberty Bell. They also have a local effort each year. This year they will promote waste reduction and recycling.
For the water project, students are still evaluating two charities that build wells and sanitation systems, Water.org and Hands4Others. Students are looking at how much money is spent on staff and administration and how much goes directly to people in need, said Thomson.
They will organize monthly movie nights and a competitive coin drive to raise money, and will make their donation in the spring.
Students at both Liberty Bell and Methow Valley Elementary are also embarking on their annual food drive for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) campaign. Students bring in nonperishable food, and the class that donates the most wins a prize. Students typically bring in 2,000 to 3,000 individual food items, said Jennifer Elden, coordinator of NHN.
NHN’s food baskets include ingredients for a holiday meal and a good supply of staples. Elden asks students to focus on items that extend the benefit of the food baskets, such as cereal; peanut butter and jelly; canned goods like meat, fish, and fruit; rice and pasta; and pickles and condiments.