Fundraiser to help raise money for Manchester boy’s trip to Europe

A Manchester Elementary School fourth-grader is gearing up for the trip of a lifetime.

Jake Billingsley, 10, son of Scott and Shannan Billingsley, will be one of 40 students (ages 10-12) from Kitsap and Pierce counties headed to England and France for a 14-day trip in last June.

To help raise money for the trip, a silent auction and raffle is planned from 6-8 p.m. for Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Olympic Fitness Center on Mile Hill Drive. There also will be free food and drinks, children’s games and crafts. Admission is free.

“This will be his first time overseas,” said his mother, Shannan Billingsley. “He will be one of 40 kids going with 10 in a group. Jake will be the youngest person in the group. While most of the kids will be going into the sixth grade, he’s going into the fifth.”

Shannan said her son is going on the trip after being selected for the “People to People” program, which provides education travel for students across the world.

“It was kind of a long process,” his mother said. “We went to a meeting and learned about the program which was established more than 50 years ago.”

Jake had to interview for the trip and get three letters of recommendation from his teachers.

“He did it all on his own,” Shannan said.

Shannan said this weekend’s fundraiser is the first in a series to help raise $6,000 for his trip. The price includes airfare, hotel, meals and tours.

The trip is for students to study and learn abroad about places such as Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Big Ben, Stonehenge, Eiffel Tower, Paris and Normandy Beach.

“Every day will be like an excursion to learn about it and to keep a journal to write about it,” Shannan said. “He will get tours to learn about it and its history.”

Jake, who has a younger brother, Maxwell, said he is awaiting his new experience.

“It will be a new experience for me because I have never traveled so far,” Jake said. “I am excited to see and explore everything. Maybe I’ll even meet the prince and princess.”

One place Jake is excited to see is one of England’s castles.

“I am really excited to see and learn about the Warwick Castle,” Jake said. “There is battle training and sword swinging and they take you to the fields to practice medieval fighting".

Since being accepted for the trip, Jake and his parents have been attending monthly meetings.

“We get together and try to figure out fundraising ideas,” Shannan said. “Also, the kids get to interact with each other before they go on their trip.”

The People to People was started under President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. In 1962, the first delegation of students traveled to Europe under the program. Located in Spokane, the program has more than 20,000 students traveling annually. Since 1962, more than 500,000 students have traveled with the program.


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