MILTON — Team Cambodia now knows where the future Milton school will be, and they’re that much closer to meeting their goal thanks to the growing support from the community.

The student group is looking to raise $30,000 to construct a school in Cambodia.

The generosity of the project was highlighted Thursday in Mary DeLong’s first-grade class at Baugher Elementary School.

Through fund-raisers at home, like doing extra chores, giving up dessert or holding a read-a-thon, and at school, like raffles, bake and hot chocolate sales and paying 50 cents to eat in the classroom on Fridays, as well as other contributions, the students managed to raise a tremendous $1,300.

“Kindness is very important to me and we do lots of things in our classroom and around school to show that we care about people,” DeLong said of the fund-raisers. “Project Cambodia was just taking it to a much bigger level.”

In a letter sent to parents announcing the fund-raiser, DeLong shared that she was interested in the activity because she has a niece who was adopted from an orphanage in Cambodia when she was just 9 months old.

“I can’t imagine what her life would have been like if she had not become part of our family,” she said in the letter.

That is why Mike Conn, a Milton High Area School history teacher, and his team want to make a difference in that country. Conn visited Cambodia, a nation torn apart by a ruthless regime and decades of civil war, last summer with his daughter and other educators as part of a southeast Asia tour. He returned with a heavy heart, and with the blessings of the district, began working with students to raise funds and improve educational opportunities in the impoverished country.

Conn recently learned the school will be constructed in the Kampong Cham Province, in southcentral Cambodia. The province runs along the Mekong River and northeast of Phnom Penh, the capital city.

Following the donation the first-graders, who were all sporting “Educate Cambodia” T-shirts provided by retired Milton teachers, administrators and friends, Conn said Team Cambodia has collected $12,000.

“I am proud of each of you, the children you help will have opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Conn said to the students following the check presentation. “You’ll now know for the rest of your lives that you helped build a school.”

According to Conn, the amount given by the class was $800 larger than any other single donation. It doesn’t include the ongoing T-shirt sales. He added he was very amazed by the amount.

Regardless of the size of the donation, all are important. He told the class contributions have been coming in from across the school district and the Valley. One time he received $2 from an elderly lady that included a note. It read along the line of “I don’t have much to give, but I wanted to be a part of this,” Conn said.

“The progress has been very good, we’re over a third of the way there, and we’re still waiting to hear back from a number of groups,” Conn said.

There are several upcoming activities in support of Team Cambodia’s efforts.

Next Wednesday, the physical education department will hold a volleyball tournament at the high school during Club Period. From 4 to 6 p.m. on March 1, there will be a spaghetti dinner in the high school cafeteria. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children, free for under age 6. They go on sale starting next Tuesday and can be obtained by seeing any high school student council member or contacting Conn or Kellie Brouse at the school, 742-7611.

Other upcoming events include: a penny war competition among the high school students sponsored by the Key Club, a sandwich sale sponsored by the high school student council, and a penny drive at Baugher Elementary School. In the spring the following activities are planned: a dance-a-thon at the middle school, a cut-a-thon at A Cut Above Salon in Lewisburg, and a concert at Milton’s Alumni Field.

Conn and Team Cambodia student president Larissa Luu will be making a presentation on Cambodia and the project at 7 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church, Milton.

Jeff Shaffer: 570-742-9671

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