On Jan. 15, 2022, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano exploded with a massive force. The resulting tsunami caused widespread destruction throughout the Kingdom of Tonga, even wiping out all the buildings on some outer islands.
The Skagit Adventist Academy fifth and sixth graders were coincidentally studying volcanoes when the eruption shook the South Pacific. The news made their studies very relevant. They learned that the explosive force was more than 500 times as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II. This 10 megaton explosion triggered a huge tsunami!
Students at SAA have a special connection with Tonga. They love and miss Ofa Langi,* current Auburn City Church pastor, and former pastor at North Cascade Church, right next door to SAA. Langi is Tongan, making the news of the volcanic events even more relevant to the students.
The students were inspired to help the Tongan people and within two weeks, they began a fundraiser to help rebuild. They presented the project to the other classes, created posters around and hung them around campus, gave announcements at their local churches and decorated their own bulletin board to showcase their fundraiser.
It was exciting to see the students take ownership of this important fundraiser and use their creativity to inspire others. They set a lofty goal of $1,500 raised then created a visual aid on their bulletin board, using different colored popsicle sticks to represent every $10 raised. They arranged the sticks into the shapes of houses!
The students quickly realized $1,500 wasn’t a large enough goal. Reaching beyond their original goal, they managed to to raise $3,160 for Tonga by the end of February!
Thank you, Mrs. Rowe for guiding these students in this awesome service learning project.
*Ofa Langi led a larger fundraising effort in the Washington Conference as well. He raised funds to send a large shipping container full of building materials to the Kingdom of Tonga.