In the wake of troubling world news, most middle schoolers may feel disconnected from others’ suffering or helpless to make a difference. But, when Providence Academy sixth-grader Nathaniel Mendoza and his younger brother Benjamin saw news about the war in Ukraine, they felt obligated to act. The brothers have created a fundraiser for their mother’s hometown of Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland.
They’re calling it “Three Pointers for Ukraine.” The goal is to send money, clothing, and letters to Jastrzebie Zdroj so the refugee children feel more at home after leaving everything behind. The town, roughly the size of Plymouth, is currently hosting about 200 Ukrainian refugee families, mostly mothers and their children.
As the name suggests, donors in the fundraiser have the option to sponsor a three-pointer by giving as little as three dollars. The Mendoza boys then rally their friends and aim to win big, hitting as many three-pointers as possible to raise money.
Providence Academy 6th grader, Zach Roles, joined the effort after his mom, Assistant to PA Lower School Director, Mrs. Kelly Roles, saw the announcement on Facebook and informed him. Zach immediately told her he wanted to join and help the kids fleeing Ukraine.
Zach explained, “I love that we are helping people that really need it and doing something we love at the same time.”
Mrs. Roles has spent the last few weeks spreading the word about the unique campaign and driving her and other kids to the shooting events.
News stations took interest in the movement rather quickly; the story gained national attention and was featured by ABC 5, Fox 9, and the Sun Sailor.
To date, Romania, Australia, and Costa Rica have also participated in selling three-pointers for Ukraine.
Those interested in joining the Mendoza movement can also donate newborn clothing and bring it to their home in Plymouth. These donations give refugee mothers a way to clothe their young children and have some belongings of their own after having to abandon life in their home country.
Another way to lend support is to make a card to lift the spirits of the Ukrainian children. This gives the children a sense of belonging and to know someone cares about them in these uncertain times.
Roles elaborated on her thoughts about her son’s involvement: “I think it is amazing that our kids are coming together as a team, showing compassion for others and spreading kindness around the world. They are a true example for kids and adults.”
On March 12th, around fifty young boys gathered and made 5,148 points at Dr. Dish Shooting Lab in Bloomington. The group is planning on hosting another shooting session in order to make all the baskets donors have already pledged.
As of March 16th, the group had raised 31,699 dollars which is 10,566 3 pointers purchased. As of the same date, there are about 125 kids throughout the globe shooting hoops to help Ukraine.
Roles showed her appreciation for the Mendoza brothers saying, “All of this started in the heart of a PA 6th grader (Nathaniel) and his brother! Thank you boys for making PA proud!”
The current situation in Ukraine is a devastating reminder of past atrocities committed by Russian leaders. Dr. Camelia Alb, a PA parent born in Romania during the communist occupation, witnessed the fear and suffering of occupied countries. Alb expressed her feelings about the situation in Ukraine saying, “I don’t think Putin will ever stop unless someone from outside comes to help. Throughout the world, people need to give support to Ukraine.”
To donate, visit this link and buy a three-pointer to help children fleeing Ukraine!