President Ronald Reagan declared November 15th National Philanthropy Day in 1986. Every year since, communities around the world have hosted events to celebrate individuals, foundations, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy. On November 3rd, the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals held its annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon, honoring Rochesterians who have made tremendous impact through their philanthropic efforts.
Among the honorees was Greece Athena Cares, nominated by WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly for Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy – Group. After reading Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water (ALWTW), a group of students at Greece Athena Middle School were inspired to get involved. “Athena Cares has raised over $14,000 for WFSS since 2014,” says Lynn Malooly. “Not only have they involved their school, but they’ve reached out to their community, creating a beautiful synergy.”
Greece Athena Cares started five years ago as a charity group dedicated to raising funds for Water for South Sudan. Three years ago the group branched out raise funds for other nonprofits, including Greece Residents Assisting Stray Pets and CURE Childhood Cancer. Greece Athena Cares has about 20 active participants under the supervision of seventh grade ELA teacher Vicki Richardson. “We typically do schoolwide fundraisers,” says Richardson. “We’ve had a couple of walks for water where kids would get donations and they would walk and donate the funds to Water for South Sudan.”
Lynn further noted how inspiring it to see the fundraising efforts of Athena students, and students from around the world. “When I look at these young people, at this stage in their lives, and know they've made such a difference, I know it changes their lives. Then I ask, 'What else can they do?'"
There are schools in all fifty states and many other countries that read ALWTW, inspiring students to help by raising money for WFSS.
“We are grateful to Linda Sue Park for writing this wonderful book and to all of the children around the world who help the children of South Sudan,” says WFSS Founder Salva Dut.