The Saratoga Sun -

44 degrees south, $16k to go


A flurry of fundraisers will be held across the Good Times Valley in coming months. According to Toby Ricks, a Spanish teacher at the Encampment School, the goal of the charity events is to raise money for a trip to help an Ecuadorean orphanage in the mid-size city of Cuenca.

Ricks, five of his students and one parent are aiming to visit and volunteer at the orphanage during the summer of 2017, but the trip will be costly. Ricks said the logistical details of the trip are being arranged by the Orphanage Support Services Organization (OSSO), a 501(c)(3) charity that supports orphanages in Thailand and Ecuador.

Airfare, fees to the OSSO and other expenses for the group of seven are estimated to total about $18,200, for the two-week trip, Ricks said. So far, the seven have gathered about $2,200 in donations, meaning they have $16,000 left to cover the cost of their journey.

Ricks said that in addition to helping orphans, the visit could give his students a broader and more complete view of the world. It would be the first trip outside the country for all five of the students, he said, and one of his big goals is to help his students “learn more about what it is like to live in poverty and how we can help people who live in poverty.”

A lot of fundraising has to take place before that goal can be realized. The first event will be held between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, when Ricks and the students will be selling Ecuadorean crafts and other items at Laura M’s in downtown Saratoga. The gallery owner has agreed to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from that day’s sales to the trip as well.

Ricks said to expect more fundraisers to be forthcoming too. He is planning a movie night at the Platte Valley Community Center Jan. 5, although he said the film to be shown and exact time have yet to be decided. A craft fair at the Encampment School in February will also chip in, Ricks said.

In an email, Ricks wrote, “I lived in Ecuador for two years before I went to college and have been looking for a way to go back ever since.”

A few dollars spent on helping to provide for disabled children this holiday season can help Ricks realize that vision and help his students learn about the world that lies outside of our borders.


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