Twenty-eight students at Greencastle-Antrim Senior High School are making a difference in their community and around the world.
They are the members of the Tumani Ambassador Club.
When Aaron Hovey joined the club, he was more interested in sprucing up his college resume than he was in helping others. But, now, he's forever changed.
"When I first joined, I thought it would look good on paper, but now it has its purpose. We're helping others. Something small can turn into something big, and I realize I can be part of that change," Aaron said.
Since its inception in 2007, teacher Martina Fegan has been the advisor of the club, which is affiliated with Free The Children. She said she has yet to see a student who leaves the club without being positively transformed.
"You can't be a member and not be changed in some way. I can't tell you how many come in because they think it will look good on a college resume and then they get caught up in it and realize it's something bigger than themselves," Fegan said.
The school held a kickoff assembly Wednesday in the high school auditorium promoting the "Be the Change" message, with keynote speaker Carlos Rosado, pastor of The Vine Church in Smithsburg.
Rosado hails from Puerto Rico, where his father was killed. He eventually joined family in New York City, where he fell prey to gangs and drugs.
He said he was invited to a mission and a church, where he found the Lord and turned his life around.
"Every single one of us has a purpose. We are world changers," Rosado said. "We are put here for a reason, not just to fill space, and every single one of us, through our gifting, has that opportunity to change lives."
Seeing teenagers willing to make a difference touched Rosado.
"This is phenomenal. This is fantastic," he said. "Coming from a poor country and them helping poor countries touches my heart."
Fegan said the message for the one-hour assembly was the power of one.
"One quarter can make a difference. One dollar can make a difference. One person can make a difference. One act of compassion can make a difference. There is power in one," she said.
Since 2007, the club has raised more than $11,000 through a number of fundraisers. The club has contributed to the Greencastle Food Pantry, the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, My Stuff Foundation for abused and neglected children, and the Haitian Relief Fund.
The club also supports the Domebra School, an all girls school in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
"That area has been hard hit by genocide. They don't have clean drinking water, and they don't have medicine," Fegan said. "So, our funds go to helping those girls get clean water, get medicine and get uniforms so they can get an education. Without an education, they have no future."
Since school began in the fall, Fegan said the club has raised $2,000. Its goal is to raise $5,000, she said.
She said the Tumani Ambassador Club is the only organization of its kind in Franklin County.
"There are kids in our community that are homeless, that are living out of cars or get burned out and lose all their possessions or their dad lost his job," Fegan said. "So, even though it doesn't seem like a lot, it will help with some of those basic necessitates. It gives them hope that somebody cares about them."
Club member Karissa DeYoung, 17, inspired an "anonymous angel" to donate $1,000 to the cause.
In a letter, the anonymous donor, who graduated from Greencaste-Antrim High School last year, wrote, "I did whatever I could to raise money. It's a great feeling to help others."
The donor raised the money over a two-month period by making roof repairs, cleaning garages, trimming lawns, raking, splitting wood and cleaning homes.
"I'm really proud that he decided to make a difference, too, in a way that he could," Karissa said. "I really believe we are the starting generation, and we are going to be controlling this world. So, we may as well start young. There is no age limit to making a difference."
This is the second year that Cody Hill, 16, has been a member of the club.
"I think it's a good thing to do. I like to help people," Cody said. "I'm very blessed in life. I have what I want. I like to help people and do what I can."
The next fundraiser for the club is a volleyball tournament Feb. 24 in the school gymnasium.
Teachers throughout the district will face off in the tournament with the winning teachers team playing the high school girls team to determine the tournament winner.
Proceeds from the event will benefit programs for children in the Greencastle-Antrim school district and children in genocide-ridden West Africa.
If you go ...
What: Tumani Ambassador Club volleyball tournament
When: Feb. 24, 6 p.m.
Where: Greencastle-Antrim High School
What else: Admission costs $3; $1 for ages 4 to 12; free for 3 and younger. For more information, call 717-597-3286.