Even before the holiday season started, students at Deerwood Academy already had the spirit of giving.
Last month they took to the streets – or at least the driveways and walkways around the school campus – to raise awareness to the plight of the less fortunate among them in the community. For the third consecutive year, Deerwood Academy students staged their iCare Walk, an initiative designed to bring attention to a community issue of concern, and then raise money to combat the issue.
In the two previous years, the themes were breast cancer awareness and bullying. This year, students targeted poverty as the theme after being inspired by the story of Terrence and Cecilia Lester, whose “Love Beyond Walls” organization works to mobilize communities to move past the walls that divide people through creative community service projects.
Earlier this fall, Terence Lester spent two months walking 650 miles from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for poverty, which inspired the students at Deerwood Academy to hold their “March Against Poverty.” Nearly all of the 744 students participated, collecting pledges from donors based on the number of steps they took. Students will host several more fundraising events throughout the remainder of the school year. All proceeds will be combined and given to “Love Beyond Walls.”
Fifth graders Ella Loyo and Layla McReynolds were two of the event’s main organizers.
“I was with my dad one day and we saw two women and both of them had two little kids and they were just walking around in the road,” Layla said. “People like that need help and we thought this was a good way to do that.”
Ella agreed. “There are too many people with children who are struggling,” she said. “They are not able to take care of themselves and so we want to be able to help them.”