Mother and daughter, Gillian and Anita Rieder, members of the Rotary International service project team to the Dominican Republic.

Early next month, Chute Middle School sixth-grade student Gillian Rieder will accompany her mother, Anita Rieder, to the Dominican Republic on a service project of Rotary International.

In addition to paying their own expenses for the trip, mother and daughter raised more than $1,000 to help purchase bio-sand water filters. They said each filter will serve the needs of about 10 people.

The city of Puerto Plata will host the approximately 30 Rotarians, and their spouses and children, who have raised funds to purchase these bio-sand water filters. Although there is no shortage of water, the villages suffer from the lack of sustainable potable water. Currently, residents walk long distances to obtain bacteria- and parasite-contaminated water – the only water available. The result is families weakened by severe gastro-intestinal illnesses such as diarrheal diseases, hepatitis, typhoid and malaria.

According to an article in the August, 2009, issue of ‘The Rotarian,’ these bio-sand filters, which cost as little as $60 each, reduce water-born pathogens by more than 90 percent. The filters have no moving parts and require no maintenance, so all the user has to do is pour water in. Layers of sand and gravel trap parasites and “beneficial” bacteria growing on the sand kill organisms.

On Jan. 9, at her house, Gillian presented a short program to interested people on the upcoming trip. Gillian said she first found out about the possibility of participating in this service project in the Dominican Republic this past August. When asked why she wanted to participate, she explained that she “wanted to help others and understand the life style and see the world from a different perspective.”

Gillian has been studying Spanish for five years and says she hopes her knowledge of Spanish will be useful, especially when the group visits a school and an orphanage.

This Rotary Service group is also asking for donations for items to be given to the school and orphanage. Gillian indicated the following items would be welcomed: Polly Pocket toys, coloring books, crayons, Littlest Pet Shop toys, used baseball gloves, flip flops, sunglasses, small t-shirts, hair accessories such as hair clips and head bands, and any small toys suitable for girls and boys. These donations can be dropped off, with a note, at 25 Williamsburg Terrace, Evanston, 60203 until Jan. 31. The Rieders say they would like to thank each donor and describe how each donation will have been used when they return from the Dominican Republic.

Ms. Rieder is the annual giving officer for the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. She and Gillian maintain a blog: