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Club raising money to save lives
OXFORD HILLS — Students of the Oxford Hills Middle School Builders Club are passionate about saving lives.
According to the club's leader and OHMS teacher, Jolene Twombly-Wiser, this year's group of around 15 eighth-graders are raising money for the Eliminate Project.
Sponsored by Kiwanis International, the focus of the project is to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a deadly disease that steals the lives of nearly 60,000 newborns and a significant number of women each year, according to the campaign's website.
"It's fatal in very poor places, mostly third-world countries where women don't have access to tetanus [immunizations]," Twombly-Wiser explains.
"It's killed a lot of pregnant women and their babies in utero and also right after birth."
According to the Eliminate Project website, MNT affects women and children in 31 countries.
Twombly-Wiser points out that it costs merely $1.80 for the vaccine. The builders organized a coin challenge to raise money for the cause, she says.
The coin challenge consists of six teams who will each have a coin jar located at a central location at the middle school, Twombly-Wiser explains. The mission is to collect as many pennies as possible.
"It's a competition between the teams," she explains. "All the pennies that go in [the jars] are positive points. If you put in 100 pennies, it's 100 points."
She explained that if one team deposits a silver coin or a dollar into any of the opposing team's jars, it actually subtracts points from that team's total for competition purposes; but at the same time, it raises money faster, says Twombly-Wiser.
Twombly-Wiser said the group is excited about the challenge and plans to count the money daily, as well as announce which team is in the lead, "to keep up the interest."
"It's what you would spend at Dunkin Donuts for your Coolatta, or even less than that," Twombly-Wiser says of the vaccine.
"Couldn't we all come up with that to save a life?"
The Builders Club has also been busy trying to raise money through candy bar sales, a bottle drive, collecting can tabs and cutting and collecting Box Tops for Education, says Twombly-Wiser.
The goal, she says, is to raise $375 specifically for the Eliminate Project by the end of the school year.
Last year, the club raised $100 through collecting box tops for the school library to purchase new books, says Twombly-Wiser.
"They like to dream big," says Twombly-Wiser of her students.
She said she's hoping to get more students involved in the Builders Club and to focus more on hands-on community service.
Last year's group focused on distracted driver awareness and educating the community about the deadly consequences of texting and driving, says Twombly-Wiser.
"We haven't had a huge focus on that yet this year," she says. However, the group has rubber thumb rings left over from last spring that it will continue to sell at dances to raise money for the cause.
The thumb rings are imprinted with the slogan "W82TXT," and are being sold for $1 each. The money raised will go back into the club fund and toward additional projects, says Twombly-Wiser.
"The kids want to buy a sign to go in the loop where parents drop kids off, because even though middle schoolers aren't driving they are often connected to people who are and sometimes it's high school siblings dropping them off," Twombly-Wiser explains.
"Kids tell me all the time that their parents are texting while driving," she says. The club, however, hasn't decided on a suitable slogan for the sign.
According to last year's students, the rings serve as a visual reminder to stop the horrible habit of texting while driving. They said the idea came after a car accident in January, allegedly caused by drinking and texting, that killed two OHCHS students, Rebecca Mason and Logan Dam.
This year's first big service project, says Twombly-Wiser, was in tandem with the Interact Club, sponsored by the Oxford Hills Rotary.
"We went to rake leaves at two homes on Paris Hill," says Twombly-Wiser. "One was for a woman who was 102 years old, the oldest resident in Paris."
"It was a lot of fun and a lot of them [students] had never done any direct community service like that before where you get to meet the person," she says.
The motto of the club is "building leaders through service."
"It's to give the kids ownership and let them drive what they want to do, what they are passionate about," says Twombly-Wiser.