Two years and more than $10,000 later and a library is taking shape in Vietnam thanks to some enterprising students at Theodore Roosevelt High School.
Members of Project Vietnam at the high school recently doubled their $5,000 goal to build a library at Kim Dong Elementary School in in the Phi Ninh district, Quang Nam province.
Tanya Titus, the high school club's adviser, said because the students exceeded the $5,000 construction cost goal they also plan to donate a little extra to the students in Vietnam to furnish the new library.
Because the students raised more than $10,000, which was more than expected, they also plan to donate the rest to local veterans organizations, including: the Freedom House veterans transitional housing; Miss Liberty House for women veterans in Ravenna; Veterans Service Commission of Portage County; and Warriors Journey Home, a veterans healing ministry in Tallmadge.
"It really became a ministry for a lot of people," Titus said.
Donors included one woman who gave money to the cause in memory of her brother, who died fighting in Vietnam. Other donors who gave to the cause shared similar connections to the country.
The effort started two years ago with Kent City Schools teacher Beth Schluep as she started planning a trip to Vietnam with her husband through Warriors’ Journey Home, based at First Congregational Church of Tallmadge, and Soldier’s Heart of Albany, NY.
The Schlueps efforts took off from there and the students — inspired by the Schlueps — founded Project Vietnam, which has been raising money for about two years towards the library.
Members of Project Vietnam include: Kelli Harrod, Maia O'Meara, Cassie Chapman, Tanya Titus, Adam Raytan, Michael Bellinson, Beth Schluep, Ashlie Townsend, Sophie Kruse, Victoria Bracher, Kristen Lillvis, Emily Bedwell and Ricky Rossi.
Titus said the group sees its mission as over now that the money has been sent to Vietnam for the new library.
"It was really cool to see students care about kids in another culture," she said.