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Second-Grader Helping Bring Clean Water to Impoverished Countries

Nov 04, 2015 08:31PM ● Published by Shannon Antinori

Second-grader Joey Benham is raising money to support charity: water's efforts to bring clean water to villages around the world. Photo courtesy of Tina Galati.

What started as a way of teaching her son about gratitude has turned into an effort that will save lives by bringing clean drinking water to people who desperately need it.

Long Beach Elementary mom Tina Galati said in just two weeks, her 7-year-old son Joey has raised more than $1,000 for charity: water, an organization that works to bring clean water to villages in 24 countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

Joey has established a website to collect donations, along with selling cupcakes and strawberry lemonade at the Aurora restaurant owned by Galati and her husband, Miguel Terrazas.

Galati said she decided to teach Joey a lesson about being thankful for what he has after he became upset that the family’s new TV voice remote wouldn’t work in his bedroom.

“I was like, let me show you something,” Tina said, explaining she wanted to show Joey how fortunate he is compared to many people in the world.

She and Joey, a second-grader at Long Beach, began looking at pictures online. Initially, Galati said she found a website that shows photos of what children’s bedrooms look like in different parts of the world. She said Joey was surprised to see that in some places, instead of store-bought items, kids used things like discarded bottles to make their own toys.

“We hit another website, and we came across a photo of kids his age in Africa, and they were gathering dirty water to drink,” Galati said. When she explained to him that some kids don’t have the luxury of running water or clean drinking water, Joey was shocked.

“The poor little guy started crying — he couldn’t believe it,” Galati said.

“I just felt bad for them,” Joey said. “I saw dirty water and I was just like, ‘How can we help?’”

Galati said she immediately started researching charities, looking for a way Joey could get involved.

“I was very proud of him, because instead of being sad about it, he said, ‘Mommy, what can we do to help?’”

Eventually, Galati stumbled across the charity: water website.

“This (charity) is really cool, because 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to the field,” Galati said.

Founded in 2006, charity: water boasts what it calls a “100 percent model,” whereby all public donations are used directly to fund clean-water projects including wells, rainwater harvesting, high-tech filters, drilling and irrigation projects. Administrative costs, including employee salaries and office space, are funded entirely by private donors, corporate sponsorships and in-kind donations, according to the charity: water website.

The organization, which has gotten high-profile support from celebrities including Alyssa Milano and Justin Bieber, said it has funded more than 17,000 projects to date, bringing clean water to 5.5 million people.

Galati said charity: water’s projects target areas where drinking water is scarce. Clean, accessible water can help improve sanitation and help prevent diseases in poverty-stricken areas, and even allows people to begin growing their own food, she added.

Galati said Joey set up a booth at the family’s restaurant, Rudy’s Place in Aurora, where he began showing customers YouTube videos explaining charity: water’s mission. Joey also sells candy, cupcakes and strawberry lemonade, which he calls “Flash Juice” in honor of the crimson-clad superhero.

According to Joey’s charity: water website, he’s already exceeded the initial $1,000 fundraising goal he set for himself. The second-grader said he plans to keep the fundraiser going.

“I’m going to try to get as many people clean water as possible,” Joey said.

Once the donations make their way to charity: water, Joey will find out exactly where the proceeds will help fund a clean-water project.

“They send you the Google coordinates to the village you’re helping,” Galati. “It makes it more real.”

To donate, visit the Joey's Clean Water Fundraiser website.

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