Nathan and Melissa Lemanski are a YWAM family who are adopting a beautiful baby girl from our orphanage in Gimbie, Ethiopia. It is extremely difficult to purchase baby formula in Ethiopia and we rely on a few costly and slow shipments from the US as well as the willingness of our families who travel for their court and embassy dates to get this "powdered gold" to our babies. There is a critical need for formula right now in our orphanages. If you'd like to donate, please click on the "Into the Streets of Ethiopia" logo in the left margin!
Nathan is a teacher at Auburn Mountainview High School in the greater Seattle, Washington area. He organized a formula drive at the school and the response was tremendous! Thanks to Nathan, Melissa and all the generous students at AMHS! Enjoy Nathan's post...
I don't talk a lot about my personal life with my students - it's mostly business in my classroom - but they do know the basics. They know my wife is awesome and my son is adorable and I've even made them ooh and ahh over a couple of his pictures. They also know we're adopting from Ethiopia.
A few of my students are also taking "Service Learning," an occupational course where students volunteer at different venues and complete service projects that they design. With adoption comes lots of questions, and I'm happy to answer them in class (provided they are brief and not an attempt to distract me from getting down to business ... these kids can be slick!).
A handful of 10th Grade English students who are in Service Learning were particularly struck by the poverty of Ethiopia and the scarcity of formula - learning that our own baby girl is literally surviving on donated formula. Then came their brilliant solution: a school-wide formula drive! The entire week after Thanksgiving was chosen for the competition. Every third period they would go from class to class, collecting the formula, and claculating the totals for each teacher. The winning class (congratulations Mrs. Bendt's 9th Grade LA!) won an ice cream party. They spread the word through an informational powerpoint teachers showed kids at the beginning of the week, then made flyers for the school and wrote the morning announcements to keep interest moving.
However, people are the same everywhere - we all know someone who doesn't understand or support adoption, and teachers are no different. There were a handful of teachers who elected not to participate, and a couple who even discouraged it, telling their students, "formula is too expensive, don't bother." Right. It IS expensive. That's why we're helping those who can't afford to help themselves.
Even the Scrooges in the building couldn't hold back the flood of generosity, though. I had students come up to me and give me 1, 2, or 3 double-sized cans of formula, saying their teacher wasn't participating but they didn't care about the competition, they just wanted to donate.
Other students couldn't afford a can, but they gave a dollar or two, and collected it from their friends, and gave it to their teachers to go out and buy cans of formula. They even did price shopping research to find out where the best deals were, to make sure their dollars would go as far as possible. Some printed out coupons from the internet, made photocopies, and put them in teacher mailboxes to distribute to their classes. I love these kids!
By the end of the week, word was really getting around and it seemed like the drive was really just getting started (we had a couple snow days that delayed the start of the drive). So, the principal decided we should extend the formula drive another whole week, and announced that to the school at the end of the day on Friday.
By the end of Friday, December 10th, Auburn Mountainview High School had collected over 273lbs of formula. In the end, they counted cans by net weight of all containers to make the competition fair. To put that in perspective, a small can of formula ($14 at our local grocery store) weighs 12.5oz. Do the math, this is a LOT of formula! When we unloaded the car, it amounted to 8 1/2 large rubbermaid totes.
I love my job, but when kids are able to see the big picture and selflessly get involved with something larger than themselves, then I am filled with hope for the next generation.
GO LIONS! There are many babies in Ethiopia who will thrive and grow thanks to your heartfelt generosity!