campaign to watch: Patch High School spawns a legacy.

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campaign: Patch High School
start date: January 2010
end date: …never? Patch wants to fundraise every year.
mission statement:
Our Water for Schools campaign was started by a group of students who want to make an impact on the world… outside of our school. Though we’re only high school-ers, we believe our goal is entirely possible and that we can make a difference not only in our community, but around the world.

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When Carissa, Kevin and Chandler from Patch High School learned about the water crisis, they didn’t just start a mycharity: water campaign — they started a charity: water club. We talked to the brains behind a ridiculously successful campaign to see how they ignited a movement at their school:

Patch isn’t the typical high school… tell us about your school.
It’s a school for kids on the military base. We’re a public school but since we’re on a US military installation, we’re under Department of Defense regulations. Oh — and we’re in Stuttgart, Germany. But there are probably five kids with German parents; everyone else is from the US, so everyone at school speaks English. It’s one of the biggest US schools in Europe, about 730 students.

That’s a far cry from our office in NYC — where did you hear about charity: water?
From Jody Landers [a fundraiser in Muscatine, Iowa, who has raised more than $250,000 for clean water projects]. We talked about starting a charity: water campaign and wanted to find others with the same desires to help… so we made it a club to keep it going.

Tell us about your club. Who joined? What did you do?
The initial meeting brought in 25 kids, but about 10 people were solid and committed members for the year. We started fundraising after Christmas break 2009. We sold breakfast on Monday — Muffin Mondays, we called it. Eight people would bring a different dozen each week to sell for $3 each, and all of the money went to our charity: water campaign. We’d also sell the Water for Schools footbands and t-shirts we made.

patch kids

Our big event was a Walk for Water, on May 16. People gave $20 to participate in a 5k. We set up booths with info about the water crisis, organized a bake sale, a cakewalk, face-painting, a bounce house. About 100 people ran the race from one exhibition to another and at the end, we had games for people to play. It was a huge success and a lot of fun! At the event alone, we raised close to $5,000.

There aren’t a lot of clubs at our school and we were the first to form for the sole purpose of raising money for a charity. And we were really surprised at the number of people who were willing to help out. As we kept going, we got more passionate.

You got a lot of media attention! Tell us about that.
Our video — the school really liked it! We went on the school news one day and just started playing. We made one to advertise the Waterwalk [at right] and one to talk about charity: water in general. Our video production teacher really liked them, so the PatchTV class started making a documentary about the water crisis and about what Patch is doing to help.

They’re also going to make a new music video for our song, add piano and banjo — it’s going to be a legit music video and it’s going to play on a military TV network all through Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. We’ll also get it on AFN (Armed Forces Network) radio.

“We love fundraising for water — we dream about stuff at night, new fundraisers and stuff! It’s such an easy cause to get behind.”

Stars and Stripes newspaper also did two stories on us (Global kids, global charity and Students with a global vision), which went out to every military base in Germany.

Where there any big challenges you had to overcome?
We live on military base, so we have a really hard time getting past the rules on fundraising and raising awareness… we have to check everything with the head of the base first. But we’ve gotten our name out enough and worked through most of that. We’re encouraged by other peoples’ stories; everyone at Patch has been really passionate and open about what we’re doing.

Also, since it’s a military base, people are moving all over and leaving all the time. But it’s cool because people who leave then want to start a new club at their next school! We’ll have kids all across the world. And I think after this year, the club at our school will be really well established so it will keep running.

patch kids

You think kids at Patch will stick with the water issue? And keep the club running after you three graduate?
The water issue will continue to touch kids from Patch because we meet kids coming from so many other countries. We know a lot of people who have been to Africa and seen first-hand the things that a lot of high school kids in the US don’t see. And we go to an International Baptist Church here, where there are people from all over the world… we’ve met people from Africa, people who’ve grown up there and move to places like Stuttgart to start over. The water crisis is very real to us.

You’re campaign page says ‘closed’ — but you’ve started fundraising for this school year, right?
Right. Our initial club meeting this year had 52 kids, mostly freshmen! We’ll do the same Muffin Mondays and t-shirts sales as we did last year, and we’ll add on a lot more. Our last goal was $5,000, enough for one water project, and we ended up raising more than $7,000. This year, we’re trying for $20,000.

We love fundraising for water — we dream about stuff at night, new fundraisers and stuff! It’s such an easy cause to get behind.

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start campaign button

Anyone can do anything to fundraise for water projects. Get your school involved — use Patch’s ideas or make up your own!

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An update from Patch in 2011:

This year, we raised the bar up to $20,000. We knew this would be a major challenge for our small military community here in Stuttgart. But half-way through our campaign, we have already raised more than $14,000! This was astonishing to us as high school students knowing the challenges we faced last year.

Since mid-March, we have raised over $12,000 through opportunities to raise awareness by speaking at the Catholic Masses held on the military installations this past weekend. The offerings collected over $8,000! The other $5,000 was donated by the LaCroix family here in Stuttgart, who sadly lost their father, a Navy CDR, to a heart attack. They made a $5,000 donation to our campaign on the website in memory of their father, a United States Navy Officer.

We know that our challenge is not yet over, but we have been so encouraged this past weekend to see such a large support from our community and to know that we are making a difference around the world. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to carry on a charity: water campaign here in Germany. We are still going to carry on with our typical fundraisers, such as the waterwalk, and we are very excited to see what is to come!

Keep up with Patch’s progress on their site here >

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