Change a Habit Save a Life

Scotty Jacobs is fascinated with current events and loves to debate hot topics with family and friends—but recently the seventh grader from Saint Mark’s School in San Rafael went a step further with his interest in world affairs. The 13-year-old decided to spearhead his own campaign to raise funds for eSibonisweni school in South Africa after a conversation with his school’s director of special programs, Jennifer Getz.

“I was telling Scotty and his family that we could support a family of eight to ten [in South Africa by supplying them] with food, cooking oil and soap on 30 dollars a month,” says Getz. With this information, the two started working on an idea. “We started talking and he said, ‘You don’t have to give something up totally but once a week, once a month,’” Getz recalls. “By the time the evening was over he had come up with a slogan.”

Jacobs aptly titled the project Change a Habit, Save a Life and set out to convince people to forgo a regular indulgence on an occasional basis, such as once a week, then give what money would have been spent to the South African school. Jars were put in each classroom at Saint Mark’s, and Jacobs had T-shirts made with the project’s logo. The campaign even prompted a schoolmate’s father to put the amount he would have spent on his recently kicked nicotine habit toward the program and the school’s drama teacher to donate $100 after giving up caffeinated beverages. In only a few weeks, $2,500 was raised, and to date over $4,000 has poured in.

This year Getz will travel to South Africa, where she’ll deliver a check in person to the school. In the meantime Jacobs is hoping to keep the program “going indefinitely” and has even met with school officials in Oakland about possibly implementing his campaign there. Asked his next goal, he pauses to think, then instantly says, “If we could get a couple more schools in Marin or even go national, that would be great.”

To donate: Make a check payable to Saint Mark’s School—Change a Habit, Save a Life and send to 39 Trellis Dr., San Rafael 94903

Sweet Company

Sausalito-based Be Sweet, which imports mohair yarn and fashion accessories from South Africa, is doing more than selling wool products.

Founder Nadine Curtis (pictured above with her son, Pixley) has recently returned from a three-week trip to rural Cape Town to visit with the 40 female artisans she employs to create items for the collection and check in on her donation program that benefits the local school, Shaw Park. Curtis donates 3 percent of Be Sweet’s sales to the South African school. “There are only eight teachers, including a principal and vice principal; some of the kids are walking eight miles each way to school, and most don’t have anything to eat for lunch,” says Curtis.

In a year and a half she has donated $5,000 through sales and fundraisers, which has bought Shaw Park two computers, anti-burglar bars, paint and a new classroom floor. Curtis’s plans for the future include starting a media center at the school, complete with a library and more computers; integrating a biscuit program to ensure each student has something to eat for lunch; and hosting a family day to boost school morale.

Currently, Curtis is collecting computer keyboards for the students to learn typing skills on.

Donations can be made through the Be Sweet website or dropped off at the company’s headquarters.

1315 Bridgeway (Sausalito). 415.331.9676,