Truckee teens go on fund-raising overdrive |

Truckee teens go on fund-raising overdrive

Photo by Renée Shadforth/Sierra Sun Alicia Schiller (left) and Melissa Popnoe stand outside Schiller's Truckee home. The teens are trying to raise $5,400 each to be a part of the People to People Student Ambassador program in July 2005.

Truckee teens Melissa Popnoe and Alicia Schiller have always been busy girls, but now they have more on their plates than ever.As Girl Scouts, peer helpers and distinguished scholars, Popnoe and Schiller have worked hard their entire school careers to earn the honor of becoming Student Ambassadors representing the United States in Australia and New Zealand this summer.They were selected for the program after an intense application and interview process, but in order for them to go Down Under, their work has only begun.

Popnoe, 13, and Schiller, 14, have to raise $5,400 each to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador program. To raise the money, the teens are holding various fund-raisers, like raffling 100 gallons of fuel donated by Bi-State Propane, selling mistletoe and asking businesses for donations. They have hand-delivered letters to every business in Truckee, which was no easy task.”The first couple businesses, it was difficult [to ask for money], but then it got easier,” Popnoe said. “It’s a lot easier because we know each other really well.”Their largest fund-raiser will be an overnight baby-sitting service on New Year’s Eve at Sierra Nevada Dance. Popnoe, Schiller and their parents will watch approximately 40 children that night.

It’s a lot of work, but they say it will pay off once July 5 rolls around and they’re on a jet headed to Australia for three weeks.Once in Australia, Popnoe, Schiller and the other teens in their People to People delegation will visit parliament, go snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef and spend time at a wildlife preserve.Most of all, believe it or not, they’re excited to go to school.

“I’m looking forward to going to the school because in the information meeting they told us you’d be treated like a rock star,” Schiller said. “They said the other students will follow you around and ask you questions about where you are from.”President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded People to People in 1956 during his administration. Student ambassadors travel overseas for two to three weeks during the summer to learn, share, and represent their communities and schools.By becoming a Student Ambassador, participants gain an appreciation for the world in which they live, build their self-confidence, enrich their education through learning in the global classroom, and develop increased levels of maturity and independence, according to the People to People Web site.

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