WESTPORT Members of Camp Can-Do, a summer bible school run by the Westport Bible Church, more than pulled their own weight by raising 780 pounds in pennies for a charitable cause.
This year's camp, which ran June 25-29, raised $1,500 in pennies to support the Living Water Project, which drills wells for national pastors and their communities in Africa so clean water is available for entire villages.
Youth participants, ranging from kindergartners to ninth graders, were challenged on June 25 to provide a $500 pump and $250 in additional accessories for a well being drilled for Pastor Samuel Guindo and the community of Gossi.
Campers more than exceeded the goal just two days later, and were then asked to raise additional funds to help purchase a holding tank, since Guindo can only pump water for two hours a day due to the high price of the gas needed to run the pump.
By the end of Friday, the campers had raised $1,501.50 in pennies which weighed more than 780 pounds. The camp's fund-raising meter showed only the first $1,000, showing the unanticipated success of the project.
The Living Water Project was started by Missionary Rich Marshall, who serves with Evangelical Baptist Mission in Mali, West Africa, overseeing a 40-acre agricultural project in the desert.
Pastor Richard Hoff and his wife, Lynn, visited the project in the 1990s. Hoff said the poor quality of water in Africa contributes to a high child mortality rate.
The water that they drink from looks like a mud puddle, said Hoff.
I thought it was pretty cool that we could help with the water wells, said camper Eric Mitchell, 14. He said hed known that there were issues with water in Africa, but hadn't realized the severity.
Every year the camp has a missionary project for the campers, and many years there is a missionary present to promote the activity. Since Marshall was unable to attend, the camp used DVDs to tell the story.
Camper Matthew Legacy, 12, has attended for several years, and said campers save up change throughout the year for whatever missionary project Camp Can-Do elects to do.
Emily Morrissey, 6, said the best part of the project was helping people. Legacy and Mitchell both agreed.
I thought it was a lot of fun, and it's good we're helping other people out, said Legacy. I never knew Africa was missing a lot of water and we could help a lot of people.
If kids can do it, why can't other people? Mitchell asked.