Sunday, December 10, 2023

Williamsburg teen is fighting the water crisis one drop at a time

When he isn’t volunteering with the Williamsburg Area Thirst Project, Bryce McHose also volunteers at his school’s spirit store, where he put all the store’s stock into an online gallery, allowing shoppers to see the most up-to-date information on item availability. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Bryce McHose)

WILLIAMSBURG — A freshman who attends Walsingham Academy is making it his mission to bring clean water to those who live oceans away.

Last February, Bryce McHose joined several of his classmates in founding the Williamsburg Area Thirst Project. Since then, the group has set its sights high in order to help those in need.

It all started when volunteers from the Thirst Project visited Bryce’s geography class last year. The non-profit organization has a mission to build “freshwater wells in developing communities that need safe, clean drinking water.”

The class watched a documentary which taught them about the water crisis in various countries around the globe.

Currently, the Thirst Project is working to build wells in southern African kingdom of Eswatini.

“I felt that when they came out and told us about the Thirst Project, it was really motivating to see how much something as simple as water can change people’s lives and bring joy,” Bryce said.

Bryce joined a group of ten students to start the Williamsburg Area Thirst Project. Their goal is to build at least one well by the time they all graduate high school in 2024.

Bryce said that the total cost for a well is about $12,000. Once built, the well will take care of roughly 480 people.

The organization’s 2021 fundraising goal is $3,000. So far, they’ve raised exactly $2,510.65.

Last October, the group hosted a car wash that raised a twelfth of their goal, Bryce said. The students created hand-made signs to advertise the event and washed dozens of cars by hand.

“We raised over a $1,000 at the car wash, which is pretty incredible because you don’t raise that much at a car wash,” he said. “I’m not really sure how we did that, to be honest.”

Since the success of the car wash, the group has also received a helping hand from some local businesses, including Perfectly Natural Soap and Minuteman Press.

As part of the group’s initiative, which is known as the “Williamsburg Thirst Drawing,” those who donate $25 to the Williamsburg chapter will receive an entry to get a coupon for free bars of soap from Perfectly Natural Soap.

The $25 donation is the average equivalent of saving one person through the organization.

Minuteman Press has volunteered their services to provide free printing for the chapter.

Though the Williamsburg chapter hasn’t had any major in-person fundraising events since the car wash, Bryce said that they are still working to fight the water crisis by creating an online course to help educate teachers and students about the Thirst Project and the water crisis.

Since founding the Williamsburg Chapter, Bryce has completed over 250 volunteer hours.

His hard work has not go unnoticed.

He was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the 2021 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.

Based on the number of service hours completed, Bryce qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, an honor that recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered a significant portion of their time to serve their communities.

“I generally don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do have it, I like to spend it by helping other people, which is a great way to spend it in my opinion,” Bryce said.

Williamsburg Area Thirst Project has another upcoming car wash, which will take place on Saturday, May 1 from 2-4 p.m, weather permitting. Those interested in helping can come to Walsingham Academy, 1100 Jamestown Road.

To find out more about the Williamsburg Area Thirst Project and how to donate, visit their website here or follow them on social media at @wathirstproject.


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