By Devlin Smith
Ten-year-old Ceris Backstrom just finished fourth grade at Holyrood Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta. She also completed a series of fundraisers for the African Well Fund that raised more than $2,400.
Ceris learned about children in Africa who don’t have access to clean water at church and decided to do something. She collected change at school, made and sold a candy house (made from her own Halloween candy), asked for donations to AWF in lieu of birthday presents and presented a post-Christmas benefit concert.
Ceris answered a few questions about her work for AWF and why she wanted to get involved.
Why did you want to help people in Africa get better access to clean water?
Because it’s unfair that some of us have access to clean drinking water and others—just because they were born somewhere—don’t. Life isn’t always fair but it just seems wrong that some of us walk across a room and turn a knob to get pure good water and others walk kilos and kilos to fill a bucket with nasty gross slime.
How did you come up with the idea to take a change jar to school?
I didn’t know how to raise money. My mom suggested advertising at places I go regularly—my school. After that I got permission to bring the project to school and two dollar stores donated piggy banks.
Why did you decide to make a candy house out of your Halloween candy to raise money for AWF?
My friend Ora had come over and we started to make a candy house. My mom saw what we were doing and offered to make us some decorator icing. She asked us what we would do with the candy house. Both of us thought it was too pretty to eat, so my mom suggested raffling it of at my dad’s work.
How were you able to get your school involved in this fundraiser?
As soon as my principal agreed to take the project school wide, I started preparing a PowerPoint presentation to explain the project to the students. It was in November when I did it and the kids got really excited and started donating hoards of money. I wrote a couple of times in the school newsletter, too.
How did it make you feel to have your school work with you on this?
Having my school work with me was great in that I don’t how I would have raised so much money on my own, or at least not as quickly.
Why did you decide to ask for donations to AWF instead of presents for your birthday this year?
Since I had just started raising money at school and was very excited and of course did not need presents, when my birthday came around in December I decided to have a dance-a-thon party where lots of people could come donate.
Why did you decide to plan a concert to also raise money for AWF?
My mom had the idea of the fundraising concert and when we talked about it with my music teacher, she decided to help, too. After that it went like a breeze since my music teacher is very experienced putting on recitals.
Through all of your efforts you raised more than $2,500 [Canadian, about $2,455 US]. How does it make you feel knowing you were able to collect that much money?
I’m very glad I could be helpful in raising money for wells in Africa and hope that through my efforts and the efforts of all who helped we can have saved the lives of many.
What advice would you offer other kids interested in raising money for charity?
My advice to other kids would be if you want to help raise money, then do fun, simple things and show everyone that you’ve got your heart set on it.
By Devlin Smith