6th Grade Giving Project
In November, our students were fortunate to have two guest speakers, Michael Abui Riang and Valentino Mathiang. The two men are part of a group known as “The Lost Boys” from Sudan. They endured hardships from the late 1980s to 2002 as they trekked from Sudan to Ethiopia to Kenya to the United States. Many days they walked through deserts without a drop of water to drink. They shared their inspiring stories of survival and their hopes for the future.
During their visit, we discovered Michael still had family in Sudan, a wife and son. He had been trying to get them to the United States for three years and was finally granted permission. This was a colossal celebration, but at the same time panic settled in. Michael had been living with friends in the Des Moines area since he migrated to the United States. This meant he was going to have to find a new place for his family and furnish it.
The students made connections with Michael when he spoke in November. This sparked their interest to help Michael and his family, so we contacted Lynelle Marcalus, a friend of Michael’s. She provided us with a list of items Michael would need for his new apartment. The list was extensive, but we were up for the challenge. He needed items as large as a bed and as little as light bulbs.
Families were notified of the needs and items started flowing through our doors. We were overjoyed with the amount families donated. Through our students’ efforts we were able to donate a toddler bed, bike, kitchen supplies, toiletries, linens, and a multitude of toys.
Lynelle and her husband, Matt, came to school to pick up the donations to take to Michael’s apartment. They were in disbelief. The donations filled their SUV from the floors to the ceiling.
Throughout the donation drive Lynelle kept us updated with the travel arrangements for Michael’s family. Each day we anxiously awaited the arrival of Choprou and Henry. On Sunday, December 16, the family members made it to Des Moines!
We could not be more proud of the initiative our students took to help someone they barely knew.