Sparked by social studies lesson at SM South, Chase Horner helps raise $4,500 for drought stricken school in South Africa

Logan Carnes (from left), Chase Horner, Jay Selzer and Harley Witbrod, the four who worked together to organize the fundraising event.

Rising SM South sophomore Chase Horner was in social studies class this past winter when teacher Joseph Laurenzo began discussing the water crisis being faced by the people of Cape Town, South Africa.

For three years, drought has sapped the city’s water reserves, with shortages so severe today that reservoirs are expected to by exhausted sometime early next year.

In the Cape Town area, residents have turned to natural springs and wells as a source for drinking water amid the drought. Photo credit Shutterstock.

“It’s not something you expect to be able to happen in a place like that,” Horner said. “Cape Town’s a modern city with skyscrapers. And they’re still able to run out of water.”

The lesson troubled Horner. He started talking with Logan Carnes, a friend from his church, Hillcrest Covenant in Overland Park, about the idea of trying to do something to help. Horner reached out to the American consulate in Cape Town, which connected him a school in the area that was looking to fix a broken well and drill a new one in an effort to reduce its reliance on the city’s water system. They would need $4,500 to fund the projects.

So Horner and Carnes set to work. Dubbing their effort “Project Well,” they began soliciting donations from church members. They also started organizing a BBQ dinner fundraiser, soliciting donations for a silent auction from local businesses. They printed — and sold — 75 t-shirts.

With the proceeds from the event on Friday, the group topped their $4,500 mark, and will be sending the funds to the school for their wells.

“I was super surprised and pretty proud that we were able to do it so quickly,” Horner said. “Now we [Horner and Carnes] are kind of debating if we want to keep it going or look at another project.”