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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Paula TredwayTristian Nikes, Richard Burger, Ayden Howard and Ty McDonald prepare containers for the penny war against grades. The winning grade gets to pick a teacher to kiss a pig.

Back in October, Maggie Luebbert's seventh grade gifted class at California Middle School started a unit about community outreach and awareness and was challenged to research and create a persuasive presentation about the topics they chose.

As the students presented their projects, it became clear that one project stood out the most — the Thirst Project.

"The Thirst Project is a project that helps people who don't have access to clean drinking water, like in Africa and India," student Lucas B. said. "I wanted to help them because I thought it was a really big problem, and since Mrs. Luebbert decided that we were going to do a fundraiser to help the community and the world around us that I thought it would be a great idea to present it to the class."

Once the class decided on the Thirst Project, they presented it to principal Matt Abernathy, and with his OK, the class started planning.

To help raise money and awareness, the class is going to be holding an assembly March 9 with two representatives from the Thirst Project to inform those who attend about the non-profit organization, and later on March 13, a minute-to-win-it fundraiser for the school. They are also holding a penny war within the school — the grade with the most money gets to pick a teacher to kiss a pig. The class will even sell scrunchies and water bottles at lunch.

The students have been working hard each class to make commercials, posters and pamphlets to help inform those around them. They've made it their mission to not only raise funds but awareness as well. Their goal is to reach $12,000 so they can fund construction of their own water well. Otherwise, they're aiming for at least $6,000. The well would create enough clean water for a village for 40 years and just $25 would give one family enough drinking water for their life time.

For more information or to donate visit www.thirstproject.org.

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