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M'ville youth holds birthday bash for donations to WE


Christopher Andersson

Marysville-Pilchuck High School teacher Jim Strickland, left, and local youth Keith Lasher.

Keith Lasher got his start helping the WE organization, which builds schools around the world among other projects, while at Marysville-Pilchuck High School but wants to continue the organization's spirit in Marysville this January.

A free "ME to WE Birthday Bash" will provide musical entertainment and speakers on Jan. 7 for all community members.

Donations to build a school in Kenya will also be collected at the event.

The birthday bash will be held at the M-PHS auditorium at 5611 108th St. NE Marysville, on Jan. 7, 6-8 p.m.

The WE Charity, formerly known as Free the Children, was "started in Canada by some kids several years ago in response to child slavery and child labor," said M-PHS teacher Jim Strickland.

"These young kids really felt compelled to do something," he said.

Today, the nonprofit organization helps build schools and provide clean water for villages and people around the world.

"It's about shifting your focus from just yourself to all of us. We're all in this together," said Strickland.

"Keith just happens to be a very passionate and involved man who has been involved from the start and has been an advocate for action," said Strickland.

Lasher has participated in the large local rallies held by the charity known as WE Day.

"Going to WE Day inspired me to change the world even more," he said. This year he said he wanted to do more.

"So I thought, why not make my birthday party about other people, instead of me," he said.

"Instead of presents for myself I wanted to give donations to We," he said.

"This is totally Keith's idea ... whenever I hear about a young person who has an idea like this I just want to do whatever I can to help them," said Strickland.

Both musical entertainment and inspirational speakers are lined up for the event.

"I'm really excited, but I'm really nervous at the same time," said Lasher. "I'm a motivational speaking for the first time," he said, and added that one day he hopes he can be a motivational speaker professionally.

Strickland teaches a life skills class at M-PHS which has been advancing their "Million Penny Project" the last three years.

"A school costs about $10,000 when [the WE charity] builds one, which is a million pennies, so initially the idea was us saying 'well, let's actually collect a million pennies and see what that looks like,' and pretty quickly we realized that was not a very practical idea," said Strickland.

They still collect funds though and currently have more than $6,000 toward their goal, mainly raised through fundraisers like local car washes.

Anyone interested in making a difference in the community or world is welcome to attend the free event, said Strickland.

"If we make progress at this event, that would be awesome, but just the enthusiasm and participation of the community, that's what I'm excited about," he said.

"This is what we're calling the Me to We revolution in Marysville ... setting off 2017 with a goal to look beyond our own needs and look to the needs of others," he said.


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