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Franklin Elementary School lends a hand to African students

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Franklin Elementary School students got a lesson in appreciation when a visitor from a nonprofit told them about two schools in Tanzania whose library was a shelf with a few old books.

In the four years since, the Franklin Park school's mission to make a difference has paid off in the form of a new library for students at the public Eluwai Primary School and the private Noonkodin Secondary School for girls in Tanzania, East Africa.

Students and staff at Franklin Elementary, part of the North Allegheny School District, raised more than $11,679 to build the library in phases.

The library, a freestanding building that cost about $15,000 to complete, was finished this week, said Todd Grossman, founder and president of a New York-based nonprofit, the Kilimanjaro Education Foundation, or KEF.

The foundation, which provided the balance of the money to build the library, works to bring the educational opportunities that exist in developed counties to underprivileged children in African countries.

Franklin Park resident Jeffrey Durosko provides pro bono communication services from his company to the foundation. In 2009, Durosko linked the foundation to Franklin Elementary, where his two daughters were enrolled.

“When you see a project like the things that KEF does, they're bringing something to kids in Africa that our kids just completely take for granted,” Durosko said.

Some of Franklin Elementary School's fundraising efforts included school spirit and theme days, in which students paid $1 each to wear their favorite sports team's licensed clothing, or dress like classmates for twin day, Principal Jeff Anderchak said.

A charity basketball game played by school district staff members and students' parents on Friday in Ingomar Middle School — the staff won 53-34 — raised about $2,100 for the library. The sales helped the school exceed its $10,000 fundraising goal for the library and raise the money in four years instead of the projected five to seven, he said.

Fifth-graders Julia Moose and Melina Tripoli, both 11, sold friendship bracelets they made at the game and raised $60.

“I've learned that there are many people in the world that haven't had as much experience with the things that we have in America,” Julia said.

The Tanzanian library will be named after Franklin Elementary School, Grossman said. About $3,000 to $5,000 more will be needed for furniture and books.

Franklin Elementary School's work isn't finished.

“We'll continue to contribute to put more textbooks, more materials, more furniture, more whatever it is that they may need,” Anderchak said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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