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Gifted student bestows gifts to orphans

Staff writer

Marion Middle School seventh grader Kennedy Fahey has wanted to make a difference in the lives of Ghana orphans since she peered through a window into their very different reality.

Sydney O’Leary, a homeschooled Tennessee youth, was Kennedy’s age when she founded the non-profit organization Feeding the Orphans.

Sydney showed grim pictures of orphans’ living conditions shown during a presentation that was part of a social studies lesson in Laura Baldwin’s sixth grade class at Marion Elementary School.

Seeing a girl her age doing a selfless act for less fortunate children conjured up complicated emotions inside of Kennedy.

“I saw the look in their eyes and it made me feel strange,” Kennedy said. “When the orphans see a piece of food, it makes them happy and we were looking at them on this huge projector. I just felt guilty and so very lucky for all that I had.”

Kennedy’s kneejerk reaction blossomed into a passionate plan of action she worked in between her scholarly responsibilities, sports activities, and other extracurricular endeavors.

Working with Sherri Sells, her Extended Learning Program teacher, and youth group leaders Chris and Jessica Ensley, she created a pamphlet for Feeding the Orphans. She also spoke to several area churches about raising funds to help drill a water well that could improve the quality of life in an African village.

Since she started about a year ago she has raised $3,000 of her $15,000 goal.

“Often gifted students have passions, but they tend to learn all they can, then move on to the next thing,” Sells said. “Kennedy found something that is so much bigger than herself and wants to make a change in this world.”

Kennedy was disappointed at first because she didn’t raise the amount of money she hoped she would. She learned patience is a really big part of perseverance.

“Some things don’t come right away,” she said. “I know I can make a difference.”

Kennedy is doing just that.

She was rewarded with orphan smiles during video conferences and she recently received the Alicia Jo Pippen Distinguished Student Award and $250 scholarship for continued efforts on her project.

One of Sells’s associates, an ELP teacher at Maize High School, also has invited Kennedy to speak to her class about her service learning project December 2.

Sells said other teachers have asked Kennedy to speak too, and they are working to schedule more presentations.

“Some people ask me why I’m helping kids in Ghana when there are so many unfortunate children here in the United States,” Kennedy said. “There are unfortunate people everywhere. I just feel this was the place I was meant to help.”

Last modified Nov. 12, 2014

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