Los Altos High's One Dollar For Life sponsors citywide fundraiser

Courtesy of One Dollar for Life
The Los Altos High club One Dollar For Life is raising money to construct a new classroom in Kenya. The existing classrooms, one of which is pictured above, are too small for all their students.

Los Altos High’s One Dollar For Life club hopes half of Los Altos will donate one dollar to fund the construction of a classroom in Kirinyaga, Kenya.

The club raises funds for the nonprofit One Dollar for Life, launched by former Los Altos High teacher Robert Freeman more than 10 years ago. But up until now, the club has raised money only from the school community. This year, in addition to the schoolwide fundraiser, the students want to go bigger. They want to raise $14,400 for a new classroom in Kenya, a total much higher than a dollar from each of the school’s 2,230 students would fund. So they’re going to the city of Los Altos.

“Mr. Freeman has encouraged us to do more and more, so going from Los Altos High to the whole town is one step closer to showing how high school students can truly make a difference,” club officer Mika Ng said.

The club is raising funds to build a new classroom in a rural part of Kenya. One Dollar For Life previously built pit latrines at the school, but the school’s enrollment has been growing, so it’s time for a new classroom. One crumbling building is currently being used as both a kitchen and classroom, so One Dollar For Life, in partnership with the Kenyan nonprofit Kiini Sustainable Initiative, plans to construct a new building. The new building will have stone walls, a poured concrete floor, iron-grate windows and modern desks. Local families are donating their labor, which will offset 20 percent of the total cost. One Dollar For Life has completed five successful classroom projects in the past, and worked with Kiini Sustainable Initiative, so they’re confident they’ll reach their goal.

“There’s a strong infrastructure set up, so you know you’re going to make a difference,” said club officer Peter Coe. “It’s not just going to be a classroom that’s going to be good for a year and then fall apart.”

To raise the funds, the students are asking everyone they know for a donation, and they’re also planning to leave donation boxes in downtown Los Altos stores. They’re hoping to reach as many of Los Altos’ 30,000 residents as possible, so they want to get boxes in every store downtown.

One Dollar For Life is following a model of a citywide fundraiser in South Carolina – that city raised a similar amount of money, but it was a less wealthy community, so club members are hopeful they’ll be able to meet their target. The club has already raised approximately $2,000 for the classroom through a text-message-based donation system.

“Half the people in Los Altos donating one dollar,” club president Ella Carlsson said. “That’s our goal.”

To donate, text “ODFLKENYA” to 71777.

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