ARLINGTON — Kristine Solis admits that she’s never been one to rally around a cause.
But when the teenager heard about the Miwani Center — an organization whose efforts include helping orphaned children in Kenya learn to read — she decided she wanted to help.
So the Weston High School senior began soliciting donations for a fundraiser to benefit the center. The idea was to collect books and movies from high-schoolers and the community. Those items could then be turned around and sold, with proceeds going to the center.
“I’ve always had a desire to go to Africa, and I know they don’t have all the things that we have,” Solis said. “We have stuff that’s handed to us.”
Solis and her fellow fundraisers recently collected about $600 during the two-day sale on Friday, April 16 and Saturday, April 17.
The effort was organized by Solis and members of the school’s Respect Team. Approximately 30 people were involved in one way or another, Solis said.
Before the sale, students collected more than 1,500 books and movies by spurring a contest among Weston’s classrooms.
Solis’ class led the way, collecting more than 700 items.
Books were priced between 10 cents and $2 a piece.
“They were really cheap to make sure they sold,” Solis said.
To help promote the sale, Solis suggested Marit Krueger, who volunteers as a missionary with her husband and their children at the center, speak at Weston to students.
During the April 6 presentation, Krueger discussed what the center does and answered questions from the students.
“The kids got really into it,” Solis said. “With teens, it can be a scary audience but I think because it was about Africa, people were really intrigued.”
Krueger said she had not met Solis until before the presentation, but said that she was impressed with her passion and purpose to help the center.
“Oftentimes I think teenagers get a bad rap for not being passionate about anything,” said Krueger, who lives in Bainbridge Island. “It was cool seeing her so focused. She has the amazing ability to get other people involved.”
The Miwani Center, located on a 130-acre parcel of farmland, is home to about 70 people. In addition to teaching residents farming skills, missionaries also provide orphaned children with an education to help them make better lives for themselves, Krueger said.
“At the heart of what we’re doing is making it so they don’t have to rely on those outside sources,” Krueger said. “The farm is the driving engine behind that.”
For more information about the Miwani Center, visit www.miwani.org.