About 320 school kids set out on a five-mile trek Friday, hoping to give a $10,000 boost to a group that builds homes for the poor.
Students at St. Vincent's School, 1375 E. Spring Lane, marched in behalf of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that provides housing for economically disadvantaged families. Since coming to Utah, the charity organization has built one new house, helped renovate a second and is nearing completion of a duplex that will be occupied later this summer.Paddy Allen, a St. Vincent's teacher who organized the march, said this is the second year for the effort. Last year, students raised $10,000 through pledges, making the student group the largest single donor to Habitat's Utah program. Allen said students have worked hard again this year and hope to better last year's showing.
"It's just a way we can help the homeless and needy," said third-grader Daniel Wilson, who had 10 pledges riding on his effort.
Allen said the program also fits well with the school's religious education program. "We try to teach the students about social justice and the needs of the community. This is one way they can participate and it is a way that they earn the money.
"It helps them relate their religious values to the community and it is a way they can realistically help people in Salt Lake get homes," Allen added.
The walk is more than just kids, however. Allen said teachers and parents also rounded up pledges and participated. "One teacher has more than $550," Allen noted. "She called everyone she knew, including the bishop of the diocese."
Allen, who is also on Habitat's board of directors, said the group plans to use this year's money to help with its "Home in a Week" effort later this summer. Allen said contractors and subcontractors are scheduled in such a way that a house can actually be fully constructed, ready for occupancy, within a week. The agency's family selection committee will screen applicants to find a family for the home. Those moving in are required to repay a 20-year interest-free mortgage that usually carries payments of about $200 per month.