Not all crusaders have capes. For some, their caring hearts are all they need to wear to fight for what they believe in. Lien Elementary students, Alma Montgomery-Riess, Walter Montgomery-Riess, Otto Bryceson and Sadie Bryceson are encouraging others to join them on their mission to raise money to assist with the education of students in Kenya.
“If you want to really know why we are raising money to help others, you should read the book Beatrice’s Goat,” said Walter. Beatrice's Goat is a 2001 children's story book based on the true account of Beatrice Biira, an impoverished Ugandan girl whose life is transformed by the gift of a goat from a nonprofit world hunger organization. The picture book, written by Page McBrier and illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter, shows how the arrival of the goat sustains the family, and allows Beatrice to achieve her dream of attending school.
After reading the book last year, students held a fundraiser. Dollars were raised to provide scholarships to young people in Kenya to enable them to attend school. “It only takes 25 dollars for someone from Kenya to go to school for a whole year,” said Otto. “Every time you raised 25 dollars, you would get recognized and get a little prize,” Walter said. He went on to say that any amount was helpful to their cause, but for every 25 their group raised last year, one of their teachers would have to kiss a goat. He said, “That is what made the project pretty interesting.” Alma explained local families provided the kissing goats.
Inspired by last year’s efforts, the four students decided to keep the spirit of giving alive. The brother and sister duos who are spearheading this year’s fundraising all attend the St. Croix Falls Farmer’s Market, which is located at the Public Library Plaza on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. as their fathers have booths there. They started a donation jar there and Sadie sold artwork painted by herself and Otto to raise money for school supplies for students in Kenya.
Alma said, “The Farmer’s Market is a great place to buy cheese, meat and vegetables and to donate kids who need supplies in Africa.”
The four are hoping to raise as much money as possible so they can shop for school supplies to ship to Africa. They will collect funds through the month of October at the St. Croix Falls market. They said donations could also be given to Mrs. Cronk, a teacher at Lien Elementary who is helping them with their mission. “I feel like the United States has so much that we can share with other places like Africa,” Walter said. His sister Alma agreed and the second grader had some pretty wise words to add. She said, “It is important to do nice things for other people. Not everybody has the same rights that we have here, but it is important that everybody has the right to be educated.”
The children agreed it would be nice if someone donated a large sum of money to help others in need. Otto said, “We would use it to buy things they needed. People have wants and needs. Education is a need.”
“Food is a need too,” Alma added. She said “People deserve food and to be educated.”
Walter said he has been brainstorming on ways a winter Farmer’s Market could be opened so they can continue to offer local items to shoppers and continue to raise money to help those in need.
Another thing the four agreed on is that they will always find it important to assist others who might be less fortunate. Alma said, “Even when we are adults we are going to help people.” Otto added, “It will always be important because I would want someone to help me if I needed it.”