Vernon Hills first grader raises funds for schoolchildren in West Africa

  • Riley Ozan, 7, of Vernon Hills was inspired by the gift of a globe to raise funds to help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country in West Africa. She attends Sprague School in Lincolnshire.

      Riley Ozan, 7, of Vernon Hills was inspired by the gift of a globe to raise funds to help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country in West Africa. She attends Sprague School in Lincolnshire. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted1/24/2021 7:30 AM

A world globe given to a 7-year-old Vernon Hills girl as a Hanukkah gift inspired a fundraiser for schoolchildren in West Africa.

When Riley Ozan's dad, Steven, spun the metal globe, Riley's finger landed on The Gambia, a small country with a population of just over 2 million.

 

During winter break, the first grader, with the help of her family, established a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Malala Fund, an organization that helps girls around the world secure an education.

Over winter break, Riley Ozan started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Malala Fund. The funds will help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country with a population of a little more than 2 million people.
  Over winter break, Riley Ozan started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Malala Fund. The funds will help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country with a population of a little more than 2 million people. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

"Schools in The Gambia are poor and some people don't have what we do," said Riley, who attends Laura B. Sprague school in Lincolnshire.

Through the Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 Facebook page and her GoFundMe page, Riley hopes to raise $2,500; so far her total is $1,531.

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Riley's teacher talked to the kids in her class about the difference between wants and needs. "I'm going to give some needs to the country, and after, if I have leftover money, I could give some wants in there," said Riley. "I feel very proud of myself for helping these kids, some grown-ups maybe, I don't know."

Riley Ozan, 7, of Vernon Hills, who received a globe as a Hanukkah gift, started a GoFundMe project to help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country in West Africa.
  Riley Ozan, 7, of Vernon Hills, who received a globe as a Hanukkah gift, started a GoFundMe project to help schoolchildren in The Gambia, a small country in West Africa. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

According to Riley's mom, Jennie Ozan, "Riley asked us how she could help, so we looked for a good cause and found the Malala Fund."

The Malala Fund was started by children's rights activist Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Asked what she might do after this project, Riley said, "I might help save the trees."

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