Wednesday, June 19, 2024



In February 2020, prior to the pandemic, five middle school students in Tacoma Washington collaborated to create a film and enter it into the Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest. Tacoma Sunrise Rotary and Tacoma Rotary 8 sponsor this contest along with local education and arts organizations. Its purpose is to encourage students to develop a voice in their community, creating poems and films about environmental concerns.

Those five students attend Stewart Middle School. Some of its urban students are among the city’s hungry, looking to the school to provide meals.

  • 75% of Stewart students are low income
  • 17% of Stewart students use special education services
  • 5% of Stewart students are homeless

The five students entering the film contest, consulting with teacher Chhay Mam, decided to donate any prize money they may win from the contest to Children International. They recognized the need of children around the world in third world countries, and wanted to share their winnings with them.

Children International, hearing about these inspired students’ donation, wrote a letter saying:

“You just made our day!”

“I especially want to thank the five middle school students who donated their prize money from the film contest to help us in our quest to end poverty. Your generous gift supports our mission of ensuring kids have a path out of poverty through programs that promote health, education, empowerment and employment — all specifically designed to give kids the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty.

“With your support, impoverished kids who wouldn’t otherwise have help are reaching for their dreams and working toward a better future—one full of hope and opportunities. You are giving our amazing and deserving kids the knowledge and confidence to make big changes in their lives.

“We couldn’t do what we do without compassionate world-changers like you.”

Rotarian Ravi Jaskar, guidance counselor at Stewart Middle School, will be sharing this letter, gifts, and food provided through the generosity of Rotarian Lance Hungerford, with the students.

These five youth are both inspired and inspiring.

Want more information?

Visit to learn more about Children International

Visit to learn more about Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest

Visit to see Chhay Mam’s work with young filmmakers

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