From left, Sister Wegdan Makram, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Board member Rita Bennett and Hazem, JRS Jordan Finance Officer, sort postcards from Any Refugee for distribution to refugee children in Amman, Jordan, recently. (Jesuit Refugee Service)
(Washington, D.C.) November 25, 2015 — Ten year-old William Scannell IV was awarded the American Fundraising Professionals Alaska Youth in Philanthropy award for his humanitarian work with Syrian refugees.
Any Refugee is an effort begun in 2014 by William Scannell. After hearing a story from his father about how people used to be able to send letters addressed to “any soldier,” William took this idea and put it to work helping refugee children.
William mobilized his school and church communities to write postcards to “any refugee,” generating thousands of postcards from across America and as far away as Australia.
William and his father traveled to Lebanon to visit educational programs coordinated by Jesuit Refugee Service, and while there he hand-delivered postcards to the Syrian refugee children they met.
JRS has established several schools for refugees in Lebanon, offering an Accelerated Learning Program that provides intensive language, math and science classes to students aged five to 14. JRS also provides school meals, secures transportation for students and provides basic health and hygiene services.
On Friday, November 20th, William delivered his acceptance speech before 500 or so people. In it, he talks about his school; and the Syrian refugee crisis. To the applause of the audience, he says in both Arabic and English that refugees are welcome in the United States of America.