Ask an expert - Club Central - LEAP INTO AFRICA

Series: Club Central | Story 5

Every Friday a group of Hinsdale Central High School students gathers to help children a world away - and whom they likely will never see or meet.

Hinsdale Central's LEAP Into Africa club holds events throughout the school year to support a school in Cape Town, South Africa. While the full group of 40 to 50 LEAP members is invited to meet every other Friday, members of the group's executive team gather every Friday throughout the school year.

Poverty and inequality are prominent in South Africa, explained the club's faculty sponsor, Christina Brodell. Started in 2008 by a group of Central students who wanted to make a difference, Central's LEAP Into Africa Club is still student run, Brodell said. Since its incorporation, the club has raised more than $40,000 for the LEAP Math and Science School in Cape Town.

"It costs just around $2,000 American dollars to sponsor a student for an entire year," said Brodell.

Students this year hope to raise at least $5,000 through events such as bundt cake sales, the fall wreath sale, a spring flower sale and the 3-on-3 basketball tournament set for 1-3 p.m. Sunday, March 10, in Central's main gym.

Senior Dilan Reddy is helping to plan this year's 3-on-3 tournament, which he said has potential to grow beyond previous years. He and other LEAP members are encouraging teams of all ages and genders to sign up for the event, which he said will be a fun way to make a difference. Anyone interested in entering a team can reach Reddy at [email protected].

Reddy, who has been part of the LEAP club since he was a freshman, said students at the LEAP school don't have the amenities or supplies that many students at Hinsdale Central and throughout the United States might take for granted. He said he likes doing something to make life better for someone else.

"It's good just knowing that we're able to have some sort of impact," he said.

Junior Maya Gin is one of several Central students who will see that impact firsthand as part of a group that will travel to South Africa this summer. It's the latest of several trips the Central LEAP Club has taken to the country since the club was established, said Brodell, who also will make the journey.

Gin said LEAP's mission drew her to the group as a freshman. While her other activities focus on fun and academics, Gin said LEAP allows her to focus outside of herself. She said she looks forward to seeing for herself the needs of the students at the LEAP school and the good she and her fellow LEAP members can do.

In addition to meeting members of the LEAP school community, Brodell said the group looks forward to some sightseeing and even a safari during the 13-day excursion.

Brodell said it's important to note that the trip is not funded through LEAP's many fundraising activities. All proceeds from the student-led fundraisers go to the LEAP school. That includes money raised through the online spring flower sale, now under way.

The plants, including bedding plants, planter boxes, ferns and containers gardens, come from Noble Valley Farms in Wisconsin.

"Everyone was super happy with the product," Brodell said of last year's sale.

Orders are due by March 1 and will be fulfilled the week of May 6 at Hinsdale Central. Visit for more information or to place an order.

- by Sandy Illian Bosch