A single donation of $0.50 can go a long way, as one elementary school, working with Water For People, a Denver-based nonprofit organization, proved in raising funds for clean drinking water in Central America.

Water For People brings water and sanitation to 11 developing countries in Asia, Africa, South and Central America. It seeks to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water, and are free from sanitation-related disease. Water For People works with a variety volunteers, businesses, schools and organizations to raise funds and awareness.

One example of such a group this year is the St. Mary’s School in Aliso Viejo, Calif., that coordinated a fundraiser to help kids get access to clean drinking water in Central America. Craig Cullen, a parent of a child at the school and a sales director with the ITT Corp., a global leader in the transport and treatment of water, worked with Water For People and the teachers of the school to do a presentation to the second- and third-grade classes about the importance of clean drinking water. After his presentation, a second-grader named Josette approached Cullen, offered him $0.50, and asked that her money go to help children in need. Her donation inspired her schoolmates to start a fundraiser.

“It was an eye opener for me to see so many children wanting to learn about the concerns around water. I have presented the same message in various business situations, but I have never had as many questions asked about what they could do to help,” says Cullen.

The fundraiser was named “Project Isabella” after one of the students who was born in Guatemala and later adopted into an American family. During Cullen’s presentation, Isabella shared her own emotional story of growing up in Central America and the challenges she and other children like her faced. In little time, the children from St. Mary’s School raised $594 to help others have access to safe drinking water. The money will go to Water For People, through ITT Watermark, the philanthropy arm of the ITT Corp., to ensure that the children in developing countries benefit directly from the school’s hard work.

Cullen says, “Do not underestimate the power of children. I would suggest that all parents get involved with their children's schools and make a simple presentation to educate the next generation. As I have found out, a simple 30 minutes and a little girl handing me $0.50 can turn into a lot of proud children who are making change. And the best part is that children in totally different countries will benefit the most.”