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Grayson Smith continues his world campaign for access to clean water
Grayson Smith with a display he made to be used to raise funds to build a well in a Third World country. - photo by Tom Reed

Grayson Smith may be young, but he’s ready to make a difference in the world.

Instead of selfishly wondering "why me?," Grayson is instead asking, "why not me?"

In September, he launched a fundraising campaign to build a well in an impoverished country. The well would provide fresh water for villagers, who are forced survive on murky water that most Americans wouldn’t even use to wash their cars.

By December, he’d collected the $4,800 necessary for the well, so he decided to raise the bar and set his sights on building an additional well.

"I felt that if I could do more, I had to. One well really wasn’t enough," said Grayson, a 12-year-old Gainesville resident.

"I’ve currently raised $7,010. I need to raise a total of $9,600 for both wells. I don’t have a deadline, but I’d like to get there as soon as possible."

Grayson felt compelled to act after viewing a video created by Water for LIFE missionaries, who are working to build wells in 20 different Third World countries worldwide. Water for LIFE is one of several missionary projects by LIFE Outreach International, a "Christian, faith-based organization committed to expressing God’s love in both word and deed."

When it comes to raising money, Grayson has left no stone unturned. He’s gone door-to-door with his parents telling his neighbors about his mission, sent out letters to friends and family and set-up booths at community events like Mule Camp Market and a Christian concert at the Gainesville Civic Center.

He’s also started selling special cards that allow purchasers to enjoy discounts at local establishments like Longstreet Cafe and Mellow Mushroom.

"I’ve been surprised by how many different ways I’ve been able to raise money," Grayson said.

Capital for a well isn’t the only thing he’s raised so far, he’s also made headway toward reaching another goal — getting more of his peers involved with community service.

"You’re never too small and you’re never too young to make a difference," said Grayson, who attends the Advanced Scholars Academy at Riverbend Elementary School.

Some of his friends, the Green family, took that idea to heart and collected more than 1,000 nonperishables in their canned-food drive to donate to a food bank. Others have volunteered at local organizations like the Humane Society.

"Seeing Grayson get involved has inspired other kids to try and find their own ways of helping others. It’s been contagious," said Andrea Smith, Grayson’s mom.

"We’re very proud of what Grayson has been able to accomplish, but seeing how other kids have been impacted is inspirational, too. It motivates you as an adult."

Grayson also sees a greater good in his well campaign.

"I think it not only purifies their water when they get the well," he says, "it purifies their hearts too because they know that someone cares enough to do something for them without looking for something in return."

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