Bement students to raise money for teacher’s Cambodian family

DEERFIELD — Pagna Sophal Donlevy had been teaching math at the Bement School for eight weeks when she learned quickly the generosity of her school community.

In September, Donlevy’s family lost their home, animals, medications and livelihood. For weeks, heavy rains have devastated 20 of 25 provinces in Cambodia, washing away homes, livestock and crop fields. The onslaught of water has destroyed Donlevy’s family village, Popealkher Village.

Beginning her first job after college, teaching seventh- and eighth-graders, the usually energetic teacher was sorrowed by her family’s troubles.

To help her family, Donlevy approached her new boss, Head of School Shelley Borror Jackson, for an advance on her salary to build her mother a new house.

Jackson declined. Instead, she said the school will help Donlevy. A few hours later, Jackson told Donlevy that her mother would have money for a new house by Nov. 7.

Donlevy was speechless.

“Words fail me to say how thankful I am,” Donlevy said.

On Thursday, the Bement School students will run or walk laps around the Deerfield Academy track in the “Halloween Fun Run” to raise funds to help Donlevy’s family purchase a new home.

The goal is to raise $10,000, the amount it costs for a new home in Cambodia.

Any money raised in excess of $10,000 will be used to buy medicine to combat Dengue fever and infections caused by the polluted floodwaters.

From 3 to 4:30 p.m., upper school students, grades 6 through 9, will do laps. The lower school students, grades K through 5 will do laps throughout the day during physical education classes.

“We, as a school, come together to raise funds for when people are in need,” said Julia Flannery, the school’s director of communications.

Gifts from the community can be sent directly to Greenfield Savings Bank for the “Bement Cambodian Flood Relief Fund.”

One hundred percent of the money raised will go directly to Donlevy’s family to rebuild their life in Cambodia.

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