Webster Central School District students have come together to raise awareness and money to help people in Africa who are living without access to clean water through the Water for South Sudan Inc. organization.

Students from DeWitt Road Elementary School, Plank Road North Elementary School and Willink Middle School have collaborated to organize a nine-day fundraiser that started March 12 and will end March 22.

Willink seventh-grader Paisleigh McCarthy first initiated the idea several months ago by approaching her English language arts teacher Kelly Hill. Since then, over 100 students have gotten involved, volunteering their time during lunch periods to plan, organize and run the fundraising efforts. Paisleigh and her friends have set a goal of raising $1,000 to help install an iron giraffe in a remote village in South Sudan, Africa. To reach their goal, students are selling reusable, BPA-free water bottles and key chains. Beyond the monetary goal of $1,000, the students hope to raise awareness about the global water crisis that exists for one in nine people in the world.

“I am excited to be working with other students and Webster teachers to raise funds for Water for South Sudan,” Paisleigh said. “It’s easy to take access to water for granted. Since reading ‘A Long Walk To Water’ and having heard Mr. Salva Dut speak about his experiences as a refugee and his vision for a better life for young people in Sudan, I felt it was important to help in some way.”

Webster teachers Kelly Hill, Rob DeRose and Holly McDonnell are supervising and facilitating the fundraising efforts along with WCSD Director of Humanities Terry McCarthy. DeRose, who traveled on a humanitarian trip to Chad, Africa, this past October has seen the effects of the global water shortage firsthand.

“We take clean water for granted in America. In Chad, I visited a village that had no access to clean water. Children as young as 5 had to walk for 1 mile to access any water — and this water was from a small hole in the ground. It was dirty, bug-infested and shared with animals,” DeRose said. “It’s inspiring to see that so many students in our local community have recognized this global dilemma and committed to making our world a better place.”

Visit tinyurl.com/yb9hpjy5 to donate to this important cause and help the students in Webster achieve their goal of improving lives around the world.