Club raises more than $15,000 to benefit classroom in Honduras


courtesy of Grant Lebedz

Junior Grant Lebedz presents a check for $15,000 to a school in Honduras. Grant, who is a member of Campaign for Classrooms club, worked with other club members to raise money for the Honduras school.

What started off as a mission trip in Uganda for Hinsdale Central junior Graham Hooten back in 2013 turned into a personal dedication to help out fellow students more than 6,000 miles away.

Hooten, along with fellow Campaign for Classrooms club members, began the school year with a goal to raise money for a new classroom for a school in Honduras. They recently achieved this goal and visited the school on Feb. 14 to present the check.

“While I was [in Uganda] I had the opportunity to visit a school called Kamwengue Secondary and Vocational School (KSVS) that was run with the aid of an organization in the United States,” Hooten said. “It was such a cool experience to see the students there committed to their studies and I wanted to do something that could benefit them. After talking with the head of KSVS, I found out they were in need of a new classroom to house their elementary level students.”

Finding peers with compassion similar to his, Hooten – as well as fellow junior Grant Labedz – began to raise money for this project. Thus, Campaign For Classrooms club was born.

“He has gone on to become an equal head of Campaign for Classrooms. After being essential in the Uganda project, we made the decision to be co-presidents when we brought the organization to Hinsdale Central,” Hooten said.

In total, Campaign For Classrooms raised $15,348 for a brand new classroom in Honduras. An impressive number for a group of high school students. In efforts to raise this money, they hosted garage sales and car washes.

“Our main source of donations has come through our letters campaigns. At the beginning of our project, we send out sponsor letters to about 250 people and families asking for donations to complete the project,” Hooten said. “This winter we also received a large corporate grant from an organization we pitched CFC to.”

After finding great success with their project in Uganda, Hooten and Labedz continued their philanthropic endeavors this year when they made a trip to Honduras.

“A couple other club members and I were recently in Honduras presenting a check to the heads of the school in Tegucigalpa. I’d been down to the school once before so it was great going back once again to check out the progress that was being made,” Hooten said.

Science teacher, Ms. Kimberly Kim, expressed how proud she was of the club members because of their dedication to raise such a large sum of money.

“Obviously there’s a lot of poverty in the region along with violence. I would say the most alarming thing is where the students of the school come from. Many of them live on top of a garbage dump less than a mile from the school and have no physical shelter of consistent source of food or water,” Hooten said.

“When the school in Honduras opened in 2004, they actually had to bribe families living on the garbage dump to let their children come to school because kids are seen as a source of income,” Hooten continued. “Many of them used to spend the day scavenging for food or recycling bottles in order to return them for money.”

Hooten and Labedz expressed how pleased they were with the club’s success and have already started planning their next goal.

“We set the goal of building classrooms in four continents in four years and so far we’ve checked off Africa and South America (or Central America). We’re hopeful that we can do a project in either India or Burma this year,” Hooten said. “We’ve been talking with a couple organizations about the possibility of doing something in Asia and are trying to figure out a way to find the needs over there.”