Community Service is a Way of Life at Colorado Rocky Mountain School

Student-initiated Clubs are Raising Funds and Awareness in our Community and Beyond
Dec 2, 2009 12:32 PM ET
Press Release

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) Carbondale, CO - December 2, 2009 - Community service is a core value and has been a way of life at CRMS since its inception in 1953. John Holden said, “It is my firm belief that the happiest people in the world are those who serve their fellow man.” Our students have always been compelled and encouraged to go beyond the robust academic and active offerings, and to become productive, engaged members of our society. One such opportunity to contribute in a greater and meaningful way is through our student clubs. On a daily basis, CRMS students, despite their hectic school schedules, are reaching out and helping those less fortunate or simply in need of assistance. From Operation Smile and Face AIDS to Soles 4 Souls and Random Acts of Kindness, CRMS student-initiated clubs and efforts are raising funds and awareness in our community and beyond. Most recently there has been a tremendous amount of student interest in global humanitarian causes, and our clubs reflects this social awareness.

Two years ago, seniors Olivia Mertz and Mima Strong began an Operation Smile fundraising chapter on the CRMS campus. Operation Smile is a global organization that provides free surgeries to cleft-palate children around the world. Since its inception in 1982, Operation Smile has given over 135,000 children a new chance at life by providing them with safe, effective reconstructive surgery to correct their facial deformities. Utilizing All School Meetings as a platform to raise awareness surrounding this organization and bake sales as their key fundraising mechanism, their club enjoys 11 student members, has raised over $2,200, and has funded eight cleft-palate surgeries.

Last year, junior Katie Grant was inspired by a passage she read in her sophomore history class from Mountains Beyond Mountains, which chronicled Dr. Paul Farmer’s decades of service in Haiti and Africa treating patients with tuberculosis and AIDS. After much research and thought over the summer, Katie discovered Face AIDS, a student-based organization dedicated to mobilizing and inspiring students to fight AIDS in Africa, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Dr. Farmers non-profit organization, Partners In Health (PIH). Since 2005, Face AIDS has raised over $1.4 million for PIH to fight AIDS in Africa via their income generating projects with HIV associations in Rwanda.

Katie debuted the new CRMS Face AIDS chapter at the beginning of this school year, and recently gave an inspiring all-school presentation encouraging our community with the following advice, “Sometimes what stirs your passion doesn’t have a pre-existing structure. Sometimes you have to be the one to begin. When you find a cause that touches you, it becomes easy to dedicate yourself to it.” She finished her presentation with the following advice, “With the coming holiday season, and a seemingly endless supply of food and gifts, it can become easy to forget how fortunate we are. This can be a time when we take our good fortune for granted, or we can use the holiday spirit to appreciate what we have, and to share it with others.” To-date the CRMS Face AIDS chapter has raised over $500 and recruited 23 members.

This past summer, juniors Kesley Bohanon and J.J. Worley decided to help needy people around the world by collecting 500 pairs of shoes for the Souls 4 Soles organization, which ships shoes to villages in third-world countries where people cannot afford to shoes. Kelsey and J.J. were drawn to the project because the donations didn’t involve cash, but rather discarded shoes. Thanks to the Aspen Skiing Company, which paid to cover the shipping costs to the distribution center, the project was a big success and involved the CRMS community and beyond.

The newest club to debut at CRMS is RAK, a national non-profit created as a resource for people committed to spreading kindness. Senior Grady Lenkin learned about RAK while visiting a college campus. Upon further research he decided it was exactly the type of club he would like to initiate at CRMS. The entire premise is to simply ask “how can I help” and to keep that question at the forefront of your mind as you move through the day. By encouraging members to reach out and make a small difference each day, an entire community can be uplifted. While Grady would like to see the club continue after he graduates, he is grateful for all that CRMS has given him and is excited about an opportunity to give something back. In typical CRMS style, upon introducing his new club at an All School Meeting a few weeks ago, 47 students and 14 faculty/staff members signed up on the spot. With over a third of CRMS spreading Random Acts of Kindness, the groundswell movement is well underway. For more information contact