BREMEN — Originally sparked by the plight of child soldiers in Africa, a Bremen High School student organization is giving its time to groups in need.
LaurieAnne Wickens and Stuart Schmeltz, both BHS seniors, started Awakened Compassionate Teens, or ACT, in the spring of their sophomore year.
They said they were inspired to start the club after watching the documentary, “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” in their world history class.
This nonfiction film sheds light on a problem of child soldiers in Uganda, where rebel army groups are known to kidnap children and brainwash them to fight.
“The worst part of it all was that hardly anyone knew that this was going on,” LaurieAnne said.
They decided to do something. They began ACT and started fundraising for Invisible Children.
The following year, ACT chose a different charity and now selects a new one annually.
This year, the 20-member student group is fundraising for Touch A Life. The foundation works on behalf of children in Ghana, Vietnam and Cambodia who have been enslaved and trafficked.
ACT’s fundraising efforts are paying off.
In February, the students reached $1,200, or about two-thirds of the their fundraising goal.
But the $1,200 is enough that they can commit to supporting a child in Ghana who has been rescued and is living in a center there.
If ACT reaches its goal – $1,800 – it will pay for the child’s housing, food, education and other miscellaneous needs.
With the money they have now and the commitment they’ve made, Touch A Life sent ACT the information about the child they will be supporting.
Mary is a 9-year-old who has lived in a Touch A Life care center in Ghana since 2009. She was a slave when she was 5.
The BHS students want to do more, though.
“ACT still has to fundraise for the remainder of our goal,” LaurieAnne said, “but we have a year to complete that.
“We are very excited to get the chance to not only support Mary, but write letters to her and share pictures.”
To raise money, ACT has hosted a football game, sold glow sticks at a school dance, snow-cones at Lion Olympics and pop at the Fireman’s Festival.
Every Thursday morning at school, ACT members sell coffee and baked goods. Their most successful fundraiser was Caroling for a Cause.
“People really love the idea of old-fashioned caroling, and when they hear about our cause, they are more than generous,” LaurieAnne said.
To donate to Touch A Life through ACT, checks can be sent to Bremen High School with “ACT” on the subject line.
To watch the documentary “Invisible Children,” go to topdocumentaryfilms.com/invisible-children/