After the April mudslide in Mocoa, Colombia, a relief campaign came from an unlikely source: a third grade classroom.
R.J. Delgado-Borrero, a third grader at Morris Elementary school in Lenox, Mass., has close family ties to Mocoa, where a landslide killed and injured hundreds. Fortunately, his family members were not affected by the incident, but they were still shaken by the tragedy.
"I got sad when my mom told me about it," said R.J.
He and his mother wanted to do something for those affected by the disaster, so they decided to rally the school community to support Mocoa in Colombia's Putumayo department.
"We planned to raise money for Colombia but we needed the school's help," said R.J.
The Colombian family passed around handwritten flyers asking for donations for Mocoa. Inspired by their effort, the school administration organized a "Coins for Colombia" fundraising drive, donating the proceeds to PADF's Mocoa landslide relief effort.
For a week, teachers shared with their students about the importance of helping people in need. Little by little, students and families donated change and small bills for the cause. By the end of the weeklong campaign, they had collected $645 in donations.
"R.J. shared his concern for his fellow Colombians with such compassion and enthusiasm," said Carolyn Boyce, the principal of Morris Elementary. "He checked in with me every day to see what the status of the drive was."
Boyce added that "he was very concerned that we get 'the right kind of money' to Colombia, because our currency is different than theirs."
R.J. was glad to make a positive difference. "So everyone would know about the drive, I held up the sign in morning car line. Then we raised $645! It made me feel happy that the whole school was trying to help."
After three rivers overflowed in April, landslides killed, injured, and displaced hundreds. PADF responded to the Mocoa landslide, immediately coordinating emergency supplies and health services.
"It was a fantastic opportunity for our school to come together and raise funds for an important cause," said Boyce. "I am very proud of R.J. and the Morris Elementary School community for making a small difference in the lives of people from another country."