Zhagya Rodriguez knew that Syria was a country in the Middle East.
The Towles Intermediate School seventh-grader knew there was conflict in Syria and she even knew that many families had been forced to flee. But what she wasn’t sure of was how to help.
Since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes, taking refuge in neighboring countries or in refugee camps inside their home country, students learned in class.
Five seventh-grade students – Aalia Aliwa, Nick Beer, BreAnna Berghoff, Rhiannon Clayton and Rodriguez – couldn’t imagine what it would be like to leave everything behind and flee from home, but all agreed the generosity of others would be important.
But how would they make their classmates aware of the issue, and more importantly, how could they help from more than 6,000 miles away?
So they did what they could.
They started talking to their classmates.
They made a list of items that could be donated: bars of bath soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, toothpaste, combs, towels, bandages and more.
“Those are the things that are most in demand,” Aliwa said. “We just thought that if it was us, we’d want to brush our teeth, clean ourselves. And those are things they need.”
The students, who have already raised several hundred dollars, will continue to collect items through Dec. 16. Then they’ll take them to the Third World Shoppe, 611 W. Wayne St., for items to be boxed and shipped in the form of relief kits.
It feels good to help others, the students said. And it’s a small way to have a big impact, they agreed.
•Manchester University invites the community to join students for a Tree Lighting Ceremony at dusk today. The evening of events begins at 5:30 p.m. with a speech by university President Jo Young Switzer at 6 p.m.
•The Indiana Tech admissions office will host a special visit day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday for prospective students interested in engineering or computer science programs.
•Kimberly Myers was recently hired as Ivy Tech’s coordinator of Non-Traditional Programs.
•Sasha Mallory, the runner-up on Season 8 of “So You Think You Can Dance,” will be coming to Fort Wayne as part of Ivy Tech Community College Northeast’s INSPIRE Academy for an all-day event on Jan. 3. Registration is $15 and includes the workshop, a T-shirt and a performance during halftime at a Mad Ants game. For more information and to register, go online to ivytech.edu/northeast/inspire.
•A $200,000 grant has been awarded to Ivy Tech Community College Northeast through the Ivy Tech Foundation from the English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation. The grant allows the college to expand its hospitality room by 630 square feet and will add 25 to 30 more seats. The space is used primarily by hospitality administration students.
•Handel’s “Messiah” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St. Tickets are $30 for reserved seating, $20 for general admission and $5 for ages 13 and older, and can be purchased by contacting Heartland at 436-8080 or going to HeartlandChorale.org.
•IPFW will be hosting a poverty simulation with the help of Community Action of Northeast Indiana from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 12.