Little School, Big Generosity
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Little School, Big Generosity

After visiting the Laxmi School in Nepal, Grand Circle associates were determined to make a difference

While vacationing in Nepal in November of 2010, Maury Peterson, Vice President of Grand Circle Foundation, visited the Laxmi School—a three-room village school in the foothills of the Annapurna Mountain Range that the Foundation has been supporting since 2009. While it's always inspiring to see the Foundation's work in action, Maury was especially looking forward to this visit … because she was bringing news of a very special gift: a donation of $6500—enough to fund several crucial repairs.

The money had been raised by a group of nine Grand Circle associates, who had traveled to Nepal together back in 2010. Their trip had been designed to reward top performing associates for their outstanding teamwork and service to the company—and as it turned out, after meeting the students of the Laxmi School, they were about to participate in service of a different kind.

The Laxmi School currently accommodates just 20 students grades K-3, with plans to begin a pre-school program next year. Prior to the Grand Circle team's visit, the Foundation had already donated $1125 to the school. This initial gift funded the construction of a new classroom—and a subsequent gift of $750 has since been made to fund upgrades to the plumbing facilities. But as the visiting associates discovered, the school still had many needs.

"The children were absolutely adorable," says Maggie Nevins, a Senior Travel Counselor. "They sang their ABCs and counted to 100 in English for us. But," she continued, "they looked hungry. Some had shoes, but others didn't. They sat on splintered wooden benches and had virtually no school supplies." What especially impressed Maggie, however, was the positive atmosphere she witnessed at Laxmi School, in spite of its many challenges. "Even with less-than-ideal conditions," Maggie says, "the kids had great attitudes and were obviously excited to be in school."

Touched by the experience, Maggie and her fellow associates returned home with a commitment to continue improving the school—and set out to raise $5000 for another new classroom, new benches and desks, and better lavatory facilities. They sought donations from their families, friends, and fellow associates. Impressed by the group's passion and initiative, Maury Peterson announced that Grand Circle Foundation would match every donation above $25.

All in all, the group exceeded its original goal by raising nearly $6500, including the Foundation's matching gift. "Even the smallest amount can make a huge difference at a school like Laxmi, so this sum is an enormous blessing," Maury says. She explains that the U.S. dollar stretches much further in developing areas, and construction projects—like the building of a classroom, for example—are much more basic than what we'd expect at a school in the U.S.

No wonder, then, that the school headmaster, Lal Bahadur Bhujel, showed tremendous gratitude during Maury's visit. "It was such an honor to deliver the news to such welcoming, grateful people," says Maury. She also delivered new sweaters to each child at the school, with the help of her son, Finn (pictured above left).  

Thanks to all of the associates and their families and friends for making such a big difference for this little school. 

You can support the Laxmi School—or any other school supported by Grand Circle Foundation—by making a tax-deductible donation. Because the Foundation charges no administration fee, 100% of your contribution will go straight to the school of your choice.

Featured in our February 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.