Haleigh Miller, 17, Emily Ashwell, 17, and Alyssa Bardach, 16 (pictured) are the founders of Three Girls Serving Three Cups of Tea. The group was formed after their class read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, a novel documenting his experiences helping impoverished children in Central Asia obtain an education. Inspired by the book, the girls host local events around their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio -- tea parties, natch -- to raise money for the Central Asia Institute (CAI), an organization that Mortenson founded to build schools in Central Asia. Three Girls' goal is to raise $16,000, enough money to fund the construction of a school, by June 2012. "We believe that education, especially the education of girls, impacts the world so strongly and so positively that it cannot be overlooked," they've said.
How cool is it that these girls are taking fundraising into their own hands, and finding a creative way to realize a goal they feel passionate about? Very. We talked to Haleigh Miller about how Three Girls Serving Three Cups of Tea got started:
I Heart Daily: What inspired Three Girls Serving Three Cups of Tea? Haleigh Miller: The original plan was to hold a car wash as a class project to raise money for the Central Asia Institute, but logistics got in the way and it ended up not happening. The three of us had already read Three Cups of Tea, we all felt really passionately about the project, and were all disappointed when it was canceled. We decided that we wanted to do something on our own.
IHD: What were the first steps to your first event? HM: Oh man… our first event was preceded by a lot of meetings, way too much planning, and a lot of stress. We played with a lot of ideas, but eventually settled on hosting a tea for our close friends/family. We made all of the invitations by hand (I have never had so many paper cuts), we made all the food ourselves, and we put together a presentation including several videos connected with the Central Asia Institute, the importance of educating girls, and a PowerPoint explaining our plans [to raise money for a school].
IHD: What has the reaction been to the group? HM: Everyone has been really supportive, and so many people have helped us enormously and given us the encouragement that’s kept us going. We had our biggest event yet at the end of the year; we hosted a tea for roughly 80 people, and we raised over $3,300, which put our total over the halfway mark [to $16,000]!
IHD: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a similar organization? HM: I think the most important part is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. So many people try and start big projects just to put them on college applications or to have something cool to talk about at parties, but those are the projects that burn out quickly.
IHD: What's next for you guys? HM: We have a few women/groups who are interested in hosting a tea for us, and we’re also planning on holding an event at a local children’s bookstore!