Photo by Robert Noles
By Anna-Claire Terry
Philanthropy 101, a three-week summer course for upcoming high school seniors to experience charities and giving back, celebrated the completion of the course by the 2016 class last Thursday at Opelika High School.
The program was founded by Lucinda Cannon and the W. James Samford Jr. Foundation. Students visit various charities and non-profit organizations in the area and learn from various speakers about what goes into starting a foundation and giving donations. Each student was given $700 and required to choose one of the organizations to donate to. After their speeches, each student presented their checks to a representative from the organization they chose. The program is in its second year at OHS and is taught by Sara Ahnell and Betsy Gore. Cannon said it is the teachers who make the course as great as it is. “They’re the ones who put plans together and make it work,” she said.
At the event, each student gave presentations about their experience in the program and explained their choice of charity.
Rakavious Chambers, Jacob Davenport and Alicia Patela chose to donate their money to Storybook Farm. “I chose Storybook because these children personify what ‘get back on the horse’ means,” Davenport said.
Jakyra Chambers said she chose Miracle League because she was inspired by plans for its‘Wall of Fame,” a memorial to players who have passed away. “I think parents deserve to watch the joy on their children’s faces while they get to play ball like normal children,” Chambers said.
The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County was chosen by Jayla Spence and Treyvontaski Ray. Ray spoke about various successful individuals and celebrities who were once part of the program. “I chose this because these children are our future,” he said.
The Exodus Ranch had a profound impact on Mikayla McCllum, who explained to the audience how Exodus means “a way out.” “I was encouraged by this program because it gives children a way out of bad situations and gives them families and things they need to be successful even later in their lives,” she said. “I can’t fix this problem individually, but we can come together and help a lot.”
Sarah Brewer, Josh Mitchell, Rachel Sharma and Natalie Simpkins chose to give their checks to Opelika Grows. Mitchell said he was very impressed at the success of an organization as new as Opelika Grows. Sharma said she chose this organization because her grandmother taught her, first hand, the valuable life lessons that can be learned from gardening.
Cannon said she was very proud of the work the students had done. “I want everyone to realize that these are 17-year-olds up here giving these presentations. They did such an amazing job,” she said. Cannon spoke to students at the event about how much power is in one person. “This program is important because it gives them the opportunity to see and meet people that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said.