HAMPDEN, Maine — Students at Hampden Academy have schools on their minds — in Guatemala. Since February, Hampden students have been raising funds to help build “bottle” schools in Guatemala. The building effort is conducted under the auspices of Hug It Foward, a nonprofit organization.
Bottle schools in Guatemala are constructed by residents of villages, including women and children, using recycled plastic beverage bottles as part of the building components.
When the concrete frame of the building has been erected, the bottles, stuffed tightly with trash to make them rigid and to serve as a substitute for bricks, are placed vertically, one atop the other, within a chicken wire framework, then completely covered with stucco.
Bottles are used because communities in Guatemala have no infrastructure with which to recycle trash and because the bottles are readily available and make good material for building, according to the Hug It Forward website.
Spearheading the fundraising effort for the construction of bottle schools is Jeanette Evans, secretary to the assistant principal at Hampden Academy.
“I know some people who are in Guatemala working on the schools. I’ve been interested in the project for several years and asked if Hampden Academy could be part of it. I thought it would be great for our kids who are getting a new school this fall to help others have a new school,” she said. The newly constructed Hampden Academy will open for classes in the fall.
The goal is to raise $12,000 by July 15. To date, a little more than $6,000 has been raised. It costs approximately $5,000 to $6,000 to build one school. Evans said the goal is to build two schools.
The Hampden Academy National Honor Society helped organize a spaghetti supper to raise funds and student council members and other students also have helped, Evans said. Hampden Academy staff plan to hold a private event to raise funds for the project, she said.
A Fine Time Among Friends, featuring a barbecue, and sponsored by a community organization interested in raising funds for the bottle school project, will be held 7-9 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Pairings at Winterport Winery in Winterport to benefit Hug It Forward. The cost is $25 per person.
Along with the event in Winterport, Girl Scout Troop 738 will offer baby-sitting services for children ages 3 to 10 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the McGraw School gymnasium. The cost is $10 per child. For information or to make a reservation, call 356-3132 or 735-4146. Proceeds also will be donated to Hug It Forward.
Evans and her son, Ethan Evans, will travel to Guatemala July 19-25 to help construct a bottle school. Evans is seeking other volunteers to make the trip. For information visit Facebook.com/ASchool4ME.
Visit hugitforward.org to learn how to build a bottle school, get involved in fundraising, and for other information.