Amazing Kids Feature

Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are happy to shine a spotlight this month on Jameson D., a 15-year-old student from New York, for his efforts to support Water for South Sudan (WFSS).

Like thousands of students around the U.S. and the world, Jameson D., a 15-year-old from New York, learned about Salva and Water for South Sudan while reading A Long Walk to Water.  After reading the book at age 11, Jameson was thrilled to start fundraising. Using social media to advertise, visiting local businesses, and reaching out in his community for support, Jameson planned a Walk for Water and raised over $1,100. Shortly after the walk, he had the opportunity to meet Salva at the first annual Brunch to Benefit WFSS—the first of many special visits. After meeting Salva for the first time, Jameson said, “He was very awesome, very inspiring, and very tall!”

He didn’t stop there. Jameson has continued to support WFSS over the past three years and now volunteers with our Operations Manager, researching tools and tents for our field teams in South Sudan. While conducting his research on tents, Jameson decided to fundraise. Again, reaching out to the community and using social media, he was able to raise over $400 to cover the expense of 14 newtents for the drilling team to use during the 2019-20 season.

Jameson, Salva, Lion, and AJ (2019)

Jameson, Salva, Lion, and AJ (2019)

Though he makes it sound easy, Jameson had this advice for people interested in fundraising: “Find a cause you’re passionate about—something you really want to change in the world. Set a date, share it with your community, and put it out on social media. Instead of looking at the entire fundraiser or activity you’re planning, break it down by steps to get it done.” When talking to people in the community about his fundraising, Jameson said he talks about the book and shares the specific cause.

Not only does Jameson support WFSS, he also loves volunteering with the Challenger Baseball Program, Foodlink, and Salvation Army. Jameson’s mom Jessi had this to say about her son’s efforts: “I’m so proud of him and the way he wants to make a difference in the world.”

Though he’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up, Jameson loves math and science. His favorite activities are video gaming and traveling. He’s already visited many U.S. states, Iceland, France, Germany, England, and the Netherlands.

We are so grateful to Jameson, his family, and his community for supporting WFSS and watering the seeds of change in South Sudan!

Do you know an amazing kid?

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Super Supporter of the Month: Michelle Hammond and Stephen Decatur Middle School

Fun with Mrs. Hammond in the classroom

Fun with Mrs. Hammond in the classroom

Water for South Sudan is pleased to highlight Michelle Hammond, the students and staff of Stephen Decatur Middle School, and their community for their outstanding support. Since 2017, they have raised over $33,000, enabling us to drill two new wells and deeply impacting lives in South Sudan.

We sat down with Michelle Hammond, a 7th grade teacher at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Maryland, to learn more about how she and her students have been inspired to support Water for South Sudan.

WFSS: How did you first get involved with WFSS?

MH: About three years ago we started implementing the state standards to bring more non-fiction into the curriculum. I connected with our social studies teacher and selected A Long Walk to Water to read with my class. The social studies teacher helps students to understand the geography of Africa while I focus on South Sudan. In science, the students learn about natural water filtration and why the aquifer is safer than ground water, as a great way to connect to the book.

I will never forget that first year reading the book. One of my students stood up and said, “We have to do something to help these people.” We found the WFSS website and set a goal to raise $2,000 at our first Water Walk. We had 350 kids participate the first year and I was blown away by how much money the kids were bringing in—they shared their ice cream money, birthday checks, and change—helping to raise over $8,800.

WFSS: What has surprised you most about WFSS over the years?

MH: I could not believe WFSS only had four full-time and one part-time staff members in the U.S. to help manage everything. They make it so easy to support this cause.

WFSS: What do you wish other people knew about WFSS?

MH: I wish they knew how far the money goes. A donation of $15,000 will save hundreds of people from illness and help to provide schools and jobs.

There are always new ways to raise awareness and funds. This water well was created by Michelle’s son to collect change.

There are always new ways to raise awareness and funds. This water well was created by Michelle’s son to collect change.

WFSS: When talking to your friends and family about WFSS, what do you say?

MH: I spread the word by talking about the need for clean water and sharing the book. My niece is in college and must do a service project so I gave her the book. She now plans to host her own fundraiser this year.

I also believe that no matter your trade or job, you can help. My 28-year-old son is a mechanic and he made a well for the school kids out of old tires. Kids throw their change in the tire after lunch as an easy way to fundraise.

WFSS: What might someone be surprised to know about you?

MH: I’m an introvert and read books to recharge after school. I collect chickens on the side of the road and raise them with a good life.

In 2007, I was named Maryland Teacher of the Year. This is an in-depth process and you must be nominated at the school, district, and state level to win. I also submitted a portfolio about my teaching philosophy—both conventionally and unconventionally. I was given the option to take a year off of school to travel and give speeches, speak to state legislatures, and attend conventions for professional development. I met President Bush and won a car (Pontiac G6)—the first new car we ever owned. I traveled with other teachers and even attended space camp. Many teachers who win end up leaving for a higher-level position but I didn’t want to leave the classroom and my students.

WFSS: How would someone describe you?

MH: Quirky, driven, and always with my nose in a book.

We are so incredibly thankful to work with Michelle and be supported by the students and staff of Stephen Decatur Middle School, and supporters from their community. You are watering the seeds of change in South Sudan!