HALES CORNERS - Students and teachers at Hales Corners Lutheran Middle School donated $4,200 for an orphanage in Haiti, and celebrated reaching their goal by shaving their principal's head.
As the Student Activity Leadership Team (S.A.L.T.) was trying to come up with ideas on how to motivate their fellow students, Principal Albert Amling volunteered that he would shave his head if the school could raise over $3,000. The students exceeded their goal, and at a special school assembly Jan. 25, the top 10 donors got a chance to shave Amling's head.
Thanks to an anonymous donor who gave $500, the principal's daughter, Grace Amling, got to be the first in the lineup to shave off a section of his hair.
"I'm not suggesting that I'm going to leave my hair; it's really cold," Principal Amling said. "But it was absolutely worth teaching the lesson in a way that the kids could experience that."
While getting a chance to shave their principal's head was an obvious motivator for these 12- to 14-year-olds, Amling hopes that the cause behind it sticks with them.
"I think the initial thrust was, 'Yeah! He's going to lose his hair,' but my prayer is that they remember why I lost my hair in five years, not that I lost my hair," said Amling. "That's the teaching process: that they understand the why behind it, they think about the mission, living life with a purpose for Christ versus living for me."
Hales Corners Lutheran Church has been raising money to send to an orphanage in Haiti since last year. The money will go toward helping the orphanage purchase land for a new building, as they can no longer stay at their current location.
The congregation has donated around $35,000 so far, according to Director of Communication Bettina Zivney, and the $4,200 raised by the school will be added to the total. Between help from HCL and other churches, the orphanage will likely have its needs met, if not exceeded.
The church has also sent volunteers on mission trips to Haiti, including Amling, who went two years ago, and is going again with his daughter this June.
"When we went, we thought we were going to give back to the people in Haiti, what we discovered was the young people gave back to us," Amling said, describing how their circumstances were "beyond comparison" to the United States.
"I'm not good with a hammer. I'm not good at building, but I can talk about my experience. That was my pledge to these folks, that I would reach as far as I could," he added. "If giving a little bit of hair caused the message to get out, then I'm really happy."