By Nabi Dressler
Local Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights residents are raising money for less fortunate children who are a world away.
By fundraising throughout the community, partnering with Starbucks, speaking at mass at Mount Prospect’s St. Emily Church and simply spreading the word with friends and family, local citizens are raising money throughout the month of January to purchase water filtration systems to be installed in poorer Bolivian villages.
Prospect freshman Marta Zoltowski decided to participate in this fundraising because it makes her feel better about herself, make kids healthier and happier and “[lets children] know that someone does care about them.”
Zoltowski is also doing this to raise awareness. She believes that locals and fellow Prospect students would care but that they just don’t know the facts about Bolivian children drinking dirty water.
“I think that our society isn’t aware about dirty water, and we need to get more involved,” she said.
John Hersey High School student Angie Mika is participating in this fundraising simply “because children deserve clean water.”
It’s all about making a difference in children’s lives for Mika, who heard about the fundraiser through Facebook.
“I’ll tell [other people about it], and then donations would be greatly accepted,” she said.
With the help of Mount Prospect resident and Wilmette native Gregg Belgard and other motivated Mount Prospect youths, St. Emily has been able to team up with Starbucks to get free coffee cups with lids to pass out to the community. Donated water bottles are also being used to raise money for this charitable cause with a local background.
These cups and bottles will be used to collect dollars and pocket change, eventually falling in the hands of Jason O’Bergfel.
O’Bergfel, a former Mount Prospect resident who has been living in Cochabamba, Bolivia, since 2005, is in constant need of money for filters for villages around Bolivia. According to his online profile, his goal is to “help Bolivians acquire better access to adequate quantities of safe drinking water.”
He has served over 1000 Bolivian families get access to clean water so far.
The Mount Prospect goal is $1,500, the amount of money it takes for each system to be purchased.
The biggest cause of death of children in third world countries is drinking water, and this fundraising is just one step towards the purification of water for kids around the world.
“[Dirty water] kills more kids than cancer and leukemia and all these things looped together,” Belgard said.
But these aren’t the only reasons why locals like Mika chose to participate in this program, something she thinks is inspirational.
“We’re taking a stand, and we’re helping,” she said. “It gives me a chance to make a difference in kids’ lives.”
“Deaths could be prevented,” Zoltowski said. “We could save a lot of kids.”
There are many simple ways to donate loose change to this program and, ultimately, change the lives of Bolivian children by providing them with necessary, clean water to drink.
“I mean, look how many towns there are in Chicago,” Belgard said. “It’s the same thing in Bolivia. They’re drinking ground water.”