Published November 18, 2008
Volume 16, Number 11

Carden West Students Learn Joy of Giving with Wheelchair Fundraiser        

Children learn by example, and one of the most inspiring behaviors to model is the joy of giving. That is the reasoning behind a recently launched campaign at Hacienda’s Carden West School to raise funds to purchase wheelchairs for disabled children and adults around the globe. 

From late October through December 1, Carden West’s K-5 students are participating in a Reading Challenge. With goal-setting help from their teachers and support from family and friends, the children read extra minutes outside of class every day. Upon reaching their goal, they ask their sponsors to make a donation towards a wheelchair for someone in need.

The fundraiser kicked off with a visit to the school from area philanthropist Ken Behring, who established the Danville-headquartered Wheelchair Foundation in 2000. Since then, the foundation has partnered with many organizations throughout the country to further its mission. By December 2007, it had delivered over 650,000 wheelchairs to more than 152 countries and geographical areas worldwide. Many of the recipients are victims of land-mine accidents who, before the arrival of the precious gift of mobility, simply languished hidden from sight.

Support for this effort from the Carden West community is a natural outgrowth of the school’s emphasis on educating the whole child. “In our 31 years in Pleasanton, our focus has always been on character-building,” observes Carden West principal and executive director Mark Silzer, Ph.D. “The ability to share is a very important part of that, and this is a project the whole school can be involved in.”

The wheelchair campaign has many other lessons to impart. Students can earn the right to use the wheelchair on the school premises, which generally produces a very valuable moment of discovery and compassion, Silzer notes. Geography and computer skills come into play when, using the data center built by parents to support the school’s charitable activities, students track the wheelchairs and broadcast photos over the Internet as they arrive at their various destinations. One of the deliveries will be made to a disabled sportsman slated to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next spring, in a demonstration of the capabilities of the wheelchair-bound. In fact, the central message for all is the impact each wheelchair has on the recipient’s life: the gift of “hope, mobility, and freedom.”

The campaign will wrap up with a special Music in the Halls “soirée” for parents and friends on Friday, December 5, at 7 p.m. at the school. Held in conjunction with the Wine for Wheels Association, the event will feature a wonderful selection of music, including a cabaret singer and a Tahitian drummer, to the accompaniment of wine, hors d’oeuvres, and chocolates. With the foundation offering matching gifts that evening, attendees can purchase a wheelchair for someone in need for a donation of just $75. Raffle tickets will provide the opportunity to win some over-the-top prizes, including a treasured invitation to January’s presidential Inauguration and one of the Inaugural Balls. 

For more information about the event or the school, visit www.cardenwest.org or call (925) 463-6060. Contributions can also be made at www.wheelchairfoundation.org


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