Volunteer work stokes young graduate's interest in global causes

Courtesy of Ellie Stanton
Ellie Stanton served as a volunteer for the Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair earlier this year.

Los Altos resident Ellie Stanton credits her volunteer work with the Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair for broadening her horizons.

Stanton, now a freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder, helped raise more than $30,000 for the Makumbi Children’s Home in Zimbabwe. Stanton served as assistant race director at this year’s event, which took place March 25 at St. Joseph School in Mountain View.

The annual fundraiser, founded by Los Altos resident Ellen Clark, targets special needs for the orphanage each year.

This year’s proceeds supported young graduates of Makumbi – in the form of micro grants. One graduate plans to use his grant to purchase equipment to start a bakery, and another will use hers to pay for college.

Stanton said she learned about the service opportunity while a senior at St. Francis High School.

The Run for Zimbabwe needed help with publicity, and that’s where Stanton typically shows her true mettle.

Clark and Stanton composed letters to send to schools throughout the Bay Area. They also performed puppet shows at libraries, community centers and other locales to help raise awareness of the event.

“One year, I dressed as a giraffe and gave a puppet show at the Los Altos Library,” Stanton said. “At the end of the show, all the volunteers, disguised as animals, sang songs.”

Stanton was exposed to international culture at a young age.

She spent her eighth-grade year in Paris, enrolled in an immersive French-language program.

Stanton moved back to the United States for high school and continued her French studies at St. Francis, where she participated in the Model United Nations program, a simulation activity in which students learn about diplomacy and international relations.

She received recognition as Model United Nations’ Best Delegate in Santa Clara Valley as well as Outstanding Delegate at a UC Berkeley program.

Stanton’s long-range career plans include conducting research in French West Africa. Her hobbies include art, with a focus on abstract work.

“I love playing with colors and letting the mind flow,” she said.

In college, she is majoring in international affairs and environmental studies.

“I am super interested in climate change,” she said.

In her spare time, Stanton plays lacrosse and enjoys mountain-bike riding with her father and hiking in parks with her golden retriever.

Clark said her event volunteers give their time and energy, and in return they receive exposure to the culture of Zimbabwe, and Africa in general, as well as the art and food.

To volunteer and for more information, visit

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