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Story Last modified at 10:01 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Local middle-schoolers raise funds to help out their Mexican peers

In Mexico, public education is not free. Students must pay for school and P.E. uniforms and shoes, school supplies, registration fees and bus transportation. That's why Project Amigo scholarships financed by the students of Gruening and Mirror Lake middle schools mean so much to students in Colima, Mexico.

Fund drives at both schools yielded more than $1,500, enough to allow three middle-school age kids in Colima the privilege of continuing their studies. Gruening was the big winner in the friendly competition, raising $1,060, said the school's partnership coordinator Jeanne Feinstein. The money came from a coin drive and a book-fair fundraiser, according to Brad and Tonya Gamble, members of the Eagle River Area Rotary Club.

To up the ante in the coin drive, Gruening held a competition among its teams of students.

"There was kids here that actually brought in their whole piggy banks," Feinstein said. The winners—seventh grade Kenai Team—will enjoy an ice cream social courtesy of the Eagle River Area Rotary, and the whole school will be awarded a trophy, Feinstein said.

Mirror Lake raised $455 through a coin drive organized by the school's National Junior Honor Society, Tonya Gamble said.

"Students in the NJHS felt that Project Amigo's cause of educating students in countries ... was worthy of their effort," said Lauren Bradley, one of two teachers who heads up NJHS.

Rotary members who traveled to Colima over spring break presented the checks to Project Amigo on the last day of their trip, according to Rotary president Pete Mulcahy. "Susan, one of the founders, was surprised by how much was raised," Mulcahy said. "She even got a little choked up."

— Chris Lundgren

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.