Fort Mill middle schoolers raising money for Uganda students

BBEL Academy students wear Gold Hill Middle School T-shirts and hold up a signed banner in 2016.
BBEL Academy students wear Gold Hill Middle School T-shirts and hold up a signed banner in 2016. BBEL Academy Facebook page

Gold Hill Middle School students are working to help students of their sister school in Uganda.

On Friday, sixth through eighth grade students will walk in honor of BBEL Academy in Uganda as they finish up a two-week long fundraising effort.

The students have been collecting donations since Aug. 18 in support of the academy, which serves students through seventh grade. The goal is to grow the school and add a secondary level, according to the Fort Mill school district.

Steven Muyimbwa of Kampala, Uganda, opened BBEL Academy in 2014 to serve a need in the area, according to the school district. Many of the students there did not have a school to attend and older students tend to work to support their families.

To walk Friday, Gold Hill students have to either purchase a T-shirt for $15, which also pays for a T-shirt to be sent to a BBEL student, or donate money, said Joe Burke, chief communications officer for the district.

The district has already sold more than 300 shirts, Burke said.

Gold Hill students who raise $35 help pay for one student’s tuition to BBEL Academy, while those who raise $150 sponsor a boarding student for a year. To pay a teacher’s salary for a month, students need to raise $70, according to the district.

Gold Hill Middle students in spring 2016 held a pencil drive for the sister school. In fall 2016, Gold Hill students and staff collected $11,000 to send BBEL students and staff T-shirts, pay for more than 70 day student tuitions, 11 boarding student tuitions and 10 months of teacher salaries, according to the district.

The donations also paid for a new bathroom at the school, and helped the academy set up a bank account and official school registration fees.

BBEL Academy has purchased 11 acres of land and started building a permanent home.

This year, Gold Hill students want to cover more boarding student tuitions, according to the Fort Mill district. They have until Friday to raise money.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082

Want to help?

To donate to Gold Hill Middle School’s BBEL Academy fundraiser, visit the school’s website and fill out a Walk Form. Forms and money should be returned to the school by Friday.

Community members also may make monetary donations to Gold Hill Middle School students.