‘No prob-llama’: Students at St. John’s School raising funds to help kids in Peru

Keeping her promise, St. John’s School Principal Dina C. Vendetti donned a llama costume after students raised $3,000 to support children a a mission in Peru. She even was the target of red paint tossing as part of the deal. The funds will pay for five Peruvian students’ needs for a year at Castillo Fuerte — translated, Mighty Fortress. The funds cover school supplies, meals and bible study materials. Shown, in the group photo, are Principal Vendetti’s homeroom class members, Hannah Kasten, Hannah Christensen, Emily Ransdell, Rachel Mallamace, Vange Christensen, Olivia Fairbanks, and Hannah “Banana” Kasten.

Editor’s note: To follow up on this column, St. John’s School students raised $3,000 overall, enough to fund five students at the school in Peru.

DOVER — It seems that Dina Vendetti is game for just about any antic that will teach her students about giving and helping others.

On Friday, you’ll likely notice a llama waving at traffic on Walker Road. That’ll be her in costume.

Indeed, the principal at St. John’s Lutheran School in Dover is at it again. The llama costume is one of the incentives for the students to raise money to support three students at a Christian school in Lima, Peru.

Castillo Fuerte — translated, Mighty Fortress — serves some of the poorest children in and around Lima. The school’s cost per student is about $600 annually and it covers school supplies, meals and bible study materials.

The school set a goal of $1,800, enough to sponsor three children for a year.

“There is such an obvious need there because of the incredible poverty — it was an easy choice,” said Ms. Vendetti.

In the outline of the project, St. John’s said that more than 50 percent of Peru’s population lives in poverty, 75 percent of Peruvians are unemployed, and 60 percent make less than $190 per month.

The St. John’s collection runs through Friday, and there’s little doubt she’ll be in that llama costume as promised.

“So far, we’ve raised a little over $1,100,” said Ms. Vendetti Thursday in an email. “I imagine that the kids will have no ‘prob-llama’ raising the rest of the money.”

The students came up with the witty title of “No Prob-llama,” she said.

“We have a wonderful opportunity here to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to carry His love to children in another part of the world,” Ms. Vendetti wrote in a flyer for the fundraising effort. “The money we raise will provide them with a safe place to learn, quality materials, snacks, and best of all, a chance to hear about God’s great love for each one of them.”

Ms. Vendetti said her students probably will not know which students they directly helped.

“We are, however, making an attempt to be in touch with the missionary there — hoping to Skype,” she said.

***

Since 2002, St. John’s Lutheran School has raised more than $70,000 for charitable efforts here and elsewhere in the world. In 2014 and 2015, the students brought in $17,750 for a school and wells in Uganda.

“It really is unbelievable the amount of money that’s been raised — and the number of people who have been touched,” said Ms. Vendetti. “What a great learning experience!”

Local efforts have included funds for Killens Pond camp scholarships, the Murphey School, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing and Habitat for Humanity.

And, with each of those efforts, Dr. Vendetti has upheld her promised incentives. She has kissed cows, chickens, sheep and pigs; served as the target for water balloon and spaghetti tossing; and dressed up in some crazy costumes.

Several years’ worth of these costumes — including Little Bo Peep, a chef and a jockey — have been photographed for the Delaware State News.

Ms. Vendetti said this year’s Spring Mission Project falls in line with a joint project at the district level in which many schools were asked to participate,

“Since we did a local project last year for Killen’s Pond, we were up for an international adventure this year and hopped on it,” she said.

This year, to go along with the Peruvian theme, she promised to don the llama costume and wave to traffic on Friday in front of the school on Walker Road in Dover if they raised $1,200.

Plus, if they top $1,500, she will let representatives from each class throw red and white paint — the colors on Peru’s flag — at her.

And, for $1,800, students and parents are allowed to purchase chances to fling paint at her.

To donate directly, checks (payable to St. John’s School) can be dropped off at the school on Walker Road. Write “Peru” in the memo space.

The school’s seventh and eighth grade students are also selling handmade knit hats for $5 each to support the effort.

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Ms. Vendetti is nearing the end of her one-year term as honorary mayor of Central Delaware of Commerce.

In her only foray into politics, she escaped having anyone toss anything at her.

“It has been great fun to be the cheerleader for Central Delaware,” she said. “I have met a lot of people and have been able to make a lot of connections. It has been a good way to model some things for our students and families: what it means to make a commitment, the importance of giving back to the community, how to strike a balance, how to appreciate what you have where you live.

“My campaign mantra has been #lovemyhometown and that’s been perfect because I really do believe that Central Delaware is an incredible place to live and to work.”

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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