Riverhead School District

Riverhead students raise $1K to help water crisis in Africa

The Water Challenge at Riverhead Middle School

Seventh-graders raised nearly $1,100 during the Riverhead Middle School’s fourth annual “Water Challenge” fundraiser, according to a press release issued Monday by the school district.

English teachers Mindy Benze, Darren Dunn and Lori Falisi had their students read “The Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park — a book about a Sudanese refugee whose mission is to provide clean water to sub-Saharan African communities — before participating in the challenge.

Students first pledged to drink only water for two weeks in order to raise awareness about the clean-water crisis affecting countries around the world. They then donated the money they would have spent on  soft drinks and juice over the course of those two weeks to The Water Project, a non-profit organization that provides sustainable water to communities in sub-Saharan Africa that lack access to clean water and proper sanitation.

“It’s a great way to share the experience that a book can bring to a group of students who dig beneath the surface of their studies,” Ms. Benze said.

• Related story: Riverhead students launch ‘Water Challenge’

Published in 2011, “A Long Walk to Water” is based on the true story of Salva, a Sudanese boy who spent years on the run after his school was attacked by rebel soldiers in 1985 and was brought to the United States in the mid-1990s. He eventually returned to Africa to establish a foundation that installs deep-water wells in remote villages in desperate need of clean water, according to the press release.

To contribute to the “Water Challenge,” contact Ms. Benze at [email protected].

Photo: Bianca Bossey with (from left) Savannah McDonald, Hannah Witt, Adriana Paladino, Rileigh Frend, Amelia Stevenson, Amber Elcik and Cameryn Moore. (Credit: Riverhead School District)