Greensboro, Ga. (September 9, 2019) – The Lake Oconee Academy sixth through eighth grade middle school students took their summer reading assignment and turned it into a team fundraising effort to support Jonathan’s House, an African orphanage, school and medical center, in the Central African Republic. On Tuesday, August 27, 2019, the students and faculty presented a check for almost $10,000 via video conference to the children and the orphanage director.

After receiving a book recommendation from an 8th grade student, the middle school teachers selected I Will Always Write Back for the summer reading assignment. The autobiography is about pen pals—one from Africa and one from America—that change each other’s lives. Caitlin, the 12-year-old American girl, sends Martin, a 14-year-old-boy from Zimbabwe, the $20 she earned babysitting after he finally admits to her that he cannot afford to keep writing letters – paper is too expensive and his last note to her is written on a discarded ice cream wrapper. Caitlin’s gift allows Martin to return to school. He eventually comes to the United States to attend college through the tireless efforts of Caitlin’s family.

Inspired by the true story of the pen pals, LOA students connected with Jonathan’s House to support children in the war-torn country to attend school. The average yearly cost for a child at Jonathan’s House to attend school is $34. With that information, the LOA middle school students went to work over the summer—they washed cars, took babysitting jobs, mowed lawns, walked dogs, held bake sales, sold lemonade, and grew and sold fresh produce.  

“The students far exceeded my expectations,” said LOA middle school teacher Dr. Beverly Montgomery. “The lengths each went to give to those less fortunate than themselves is a testament to the spirit of giving. We were hoping to raise about $2,000—just enough money to buy each of the 450 students at Jonathan’s House their own school books. With a donation this size, they will be able to provide much more support for these children.” 

LOA students were thrilled to connect with the orphanage on a video conference to present a check and meet each other “in person.” The children at Jonathan’s House sang “Amazing Grace” for the LOA students and teachers which was a beautiful finish to a very meaningful and impactful summer assignment. 


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Photo 1: LOA students speak to the children at Jonathan’s House, an orphanage in Africa.

Photo 2: LOA students prepare to present the check for their donation to Jonathan’s House.

Photo 3: The 2019 LOA Middle School students and faculty.

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