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A group of fifth-grade classes at Layton Elementary School are going above and beyond their daily assignments to help a poverty stricken school thousands of miles away. The kids say they wanted to make a difference in the students' lives even though they've never met them.

And the inspiration behind all of it comes from a professional soccer player.

"We are so excited to come together and look at what we have done," said one of the fifth-grade teachers, as about 150 students came together to drop more change in the glass jars in front of them. Each one of the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters are all part of The Gambia Challenge.

Gambia is a country in west Africa and it's also where player #29 of Real Salt Lake was born and raised. Abdoulie Mansally, 25, who has played for Real for three years, grew up in Gambia and he has started a foundation to help raise money for his elementary school.

Mansally says his school is so poor that it is held up by a wooden pole in the middle of the classroom. Education supplies are very limited.

When the fifth-grade teachers at Layton Elementary heard about that situation and Mansally's Charity foundation to help his childhood school they decided to join in.

"Really poor," said Mansally to 2News when describing his school and the area he grew up. "People struggle for daily food to put daily meals on the table."

One U.S. dollar is equal to 43 Gambia dollars. So far, the kids have raised about a $1,000 that translates into $43,000 in Gambia.

That amount of money was enough for a visit from Mansally himself to thank the kids for their generous contribution.

"I can't express how thankful I am for you guys doing this," said Mansally to the kids as he looked at all the money in the jars.

But Mansally wasn't just all talk. He also joined the kids on the soccer field to share his skills and enthusiasm for the game and for life. The kids say they couldn't be happier to be part of such a great cause.


"It's like a warm hearted feeling and it makes you feel really good and you want to do more," said student Garrett Jones.

And seeing the faces of the children in Gambia in the pictures they have hanging up in the classrooms makes all the difference to want to help out more.

"I feel really bad for those kids in Gambia because I want them to have a better education than me, because they deserve it more than me they need it more," said student Kendalynn Pilkerton.

"We are helping kids have second chances and not many people get second chances," said student Tiana Casper.

The kids will continue to raise money through the end of the school year. Mansally plans to deliver the money himself to the school once he gets an opening from his soccer schedule. He told the kids, just one bag of rice can feed a family of five for two months. For more information about Mansally's charity foundation go to

Inside The Story: The Gambia Challenge by DAN RASCON of KUTV

Click on the following link to watch the video and hear from the horse’s mouth.

Thanks to Mansally for the great initiative. Gambian Talents is proud of you.

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