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Schroon Lake teen tackles childhood hunger

Race to raise money for lunch program

Clare Whitney, a Schroon Lake teen, poses with students from the Chiquilistagua Publico school in Nicaragua. Whitney is planning a 5-kilometer run June 16 to raise lunch money for students at the school.

Clare Whitney, a Schroon Lake teen, poses with students from the Chiquilistagua Publico school in Nicaragua. Whitney is planning a 5-kilometer run June 16 to raise lunch money for students at the school.

— Clare Whitney has seen the face of poverty. It wasn’t pleasant.

Whitney, a student at Schroon Lake Central School, met many hungry children during a Mission of Hope visit to Nicaragua in February. She came home determined to help.

That’s the reason’s she’s planning a 5-kilometer race Saturday, June 16.

“I hope to raise a total of $10,000 by the end of 2012,” Whitney said. “At this race, I am hoping to get halfway to my overall goal.

“This money will pay for the lunches of a little more than 130 children for one school year,” she said. “In a school of 1,500 students, this is a small dent of less than 9 percent, but I believe that we can start small to make a huge difference.”

Hunger is rampant in Nicaragua. It is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere; only Haiti has worse poverty.

School lunch is important, Whitney said, because it is often the only food a child receives in day.

“If they don’t get lunch at school during the day, odds are they won’t get fed every night when they go home,” the Schroon Lake junior said. “It is so important that we sponsor these children to assure education and do what we can to assure better nutrition as well.

“I currently sponsor an 11 year-old girl attending Chiquilistagua Publico named Izayanna,” she said. “The lunch we can buy for the students will vary from meals such as tortilla bread and cheese, or soup, or oatmeal-like drinks. These meals are very simple and they emphasize fruit and protein, which is what most children lack most in their diets.”

Whitney considered asking for donations to support her lunch program, but decided to hold a race.

“I chose to hold a race rather than just ask for donations mostly because of the action it takes,” Whitney explained. “Mission of Hope is all about action. Sister Debbie (Blow, Mission of Hope director) always reminds us that ‘our mission truly starts when we get home.’ We all need to do what we can and getting up in the morning to push your body to run 5 kilometers for a great cause is a lot more satisfying than just handing someone 20 bucks.

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