• 55°

Chesy students’ T-shirt fundraiser helps youth overseas

CHESAPEAKE — A fund-raiser started earlier this year by some Chesapeake High School students will profit a foundation to help youth persecuted by war.

It all started with a book: the award-winning autobiography of Ishmael Beah, who wrote about his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone in “A Long Way Gone.”

The students of Chesapeake High English teacher Kristen Miller were so taken with the account that they formed the “CHS Makes a Difference Movement,” whose first project is to raise money to send to Beah’s foundation, which funds educational opportunities for youth caught in war-torn countries.

Beah was a child when civil war broke out in his homeland. In trying to escape the rebels, he became a pawn in his own government when he was captured and forced to become a child soldier at the age of 13. Three years later UNICEF rescued him.

They raised the money by selling more than 100 T-shirts that were designed by classmate Brooke Galloway.

The shirts selling for $10 each netted $400 for Beah’s work.

The shirt in the green and blue colors of the country states, “My shirt made a difference in Sierra Leon. What did your shirt do?”

The students were also the focus of attention from several of Marshall University’s international students who came to the high school to discuss the book. The students were members of a Marshall English as a Second Language class and their homelands ranged from Turkey, Tunisia, Korea, Vietnam to China.

“I think they feel proud about the fund-raiser and themselves for being noticed for reading something such as this in their school,” Miller said. “In the past reading a novel hasn’t been a cool thing and this year it has. They were impressed a college class wanted to hear about what they thought about the book.”