Do They Know It's Christmas?

Today as I was going through some Christmas stuff I came across this CD and it made me think I should do this post that you read here now....

During Christmas 2004 I was living in England. That is the year this version of the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" came out. The original one has been released 20 years earlier in 1984.

I am sure you have heard this song.... it is on the radio and in the stores this time of year. But in case you haven't....

I wish I could share a version with the official video to share, but at least you can hear it. And yes, that is Chris Martin from Coldplay just to name one famous face.

And if you don't know the story behind this the idea is that many recording artists {both in 1984 and again in 2004} got together to record this song and the proceeds went to charity.

I can't tell you how much I LOVE this song!

So upon my return to the United States in 2005 I was teaching 5th grade for several years.

And although the following idea may not be appropriate for kindergarten or first grade or possibly any class... I still would like to share.

In December 2008 I played this song to my fifth graders.... they were SILENT! I told them they were going to need to write down what they thought the lyrics meant. So I played it again.

I presented them with a challenge. I told them as they are about to ask for so many toys and luxuries for this holiday season I would like to challenge them to think about others who need it more than them.

I explained it was $300 {in 2008/ now is $360} per year to sponsor a child in Uganda, Africa for one year. This would cover the cost of tuition, books, a uniform, daily nutrition and a mosquito net... for an entire year. I had found an organization that was just starting up called Change A Life Uganda {more info about them at the end.}

And yes, there was a long classroom discussion about the mosquito net.

I told them that if they could earn half the money I would match their donations.

$150 divided by 30 students was only $5 each. What was the catch? I told them I didn't want their parents' money. {I even wrote a note telling the parents that I didn't want their money.} I wanted the students to earn it.

And they did.

Over the two week vacation they earned the money. They actually earned $200. I had a few parents emailing me and thanking me as their kids were asking for chores to do in order to earn money. They were VERY into this.

They made $200!!

And next thing you know we had a boy about their age of 10 years old living in Uganda and able to attend school because of the work of these kids.

We also had a visit from Jean Semler and Dave Thelen who run the organization Change A Life Uganda. They came by the school to say thank you to the children. Sidenote: They are based in New Jersey and made an effort to come to our school while on a trip to California.

Those kids left in June after only about 2 letters from our new friend. I still sponsor him today. And I have run into a few of my former students and they ask about the boy.

I light up whenever I get letters from my friend in Uganda. And although I want to share an entire letter, I thought that isn't fair because he didn't write for me to publish it on the internet.... BUT I have to share a small tidbit because
A. I love his beautiful handwriting
B. I love his writing style and
C. I am just proud to sponsor him and proud of my former class.
Ahh he is president of two clubs! And getting good grades by the way!

I don't want this post to seem like I am preaching. And I am not even trying to strong arm you into doing this with your class and I don't think it would be appropriate with every grade or even every class.

Click {HERE} to go to their blog to read more about their programs. And just FYI no one has asked me to do this or paid me to do it. I literally just found that Christmas CD as I unpacked some ornaments and it turned into me needing to share all of this with you!

And if you do want to get your students and school involved, but maybe can't take on sponsoring a child for the long term this same organization does a "Quarters for Water" fundraiser in March.

Be Merry this holiday season! Be Thankful and be Giving!


  1. I foster an elephant in Africa for my nieces and they love getting updates and a monthly watercolor elephant :) It's so important to teach kindness and philanthropy...those students will remember this forever. Love this idea and you are an angel!

    1. I love the idea of sponsoring an elephant! Thank you for sharing that Jen!


  2. The principal of my school has an early childhood school with her husband in Tanzania, Africa. I was telling my mom and dad about this and one year for my birthday, they had desks made for the school in honor of me being an educator. I was blown away! How awesome! Then my parents got more involved and actually helped have six wells drilled in the area. In the past, my pod bestie and I have even had our kids raise money to help pay for the teacher's salary. She actually went with my principal and several others to visit there a few years ago. As a school, we try to do things for our sister school. I love the idea of having your students earn the money. I would love to share this with my 5th graders. This made my heart smile. Thank you for sharing!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. Wow! I love everything that you just wrote! How awesome are your parents... and principal... and you too! Thank you for sharing that!!