Community

Lessons in the price of freedom

In some classrooms, community service projects consist of reading to younger students, picking up trash or cleaning up public areas. In a Pine Lake Middle School language arts classroom, it means raising money to help people on the other side of the world.

Mercer Island High School graduate Eric Ensey, class of 1987, is now a middle school teacher at PLMS in the Issaquah School District. He and his students have helped raise thousands of dollars for the International Justice Mission (IJM), a nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C. Money that the students help bring in is sent to places like India, where Ensey recently traveled, to free people from slavery through the international justice system.

“They are a group of incredibly gifted lawyers who just want to devote their lives to something bigger than themselves,” said Ensey of the IJM workers who he met when traveling with IJM in India. “I was blown away by how dedicated and just amazing they are at what they do. Every day, they put themselves in vulnerable places.”

During 2008, students at PLMS, Issaquah High School and Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus pooled their efforts to help bring IJM $50,000. This year, fundraising will be split between IJM and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Ensey said students at PLMS and Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus, the two schools participating this year, voted to add the local hospital to the list because they want to help both “locally and globally.” This year’s fundraising kicked off last Friday with an all-school assembly. Between now and the end of the year, students can collect change and donations toward the cause. Over the past two years, thousands of students have gotten involved, and Ensey said for many it has been a life-changing experience.

“The end result is the kids are really outward-focused. They are doing community service in record numbers, and it is very cool to see,” he said.

Anyone interested in donating to the cause can do so by sending checks made out to Pine Lakes Middle School to the school with IJM in the memo line.

For more information about the International Justice Mission, visit www.ijm.org.

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