A project that raised more than $700 for female students attending school in Guatemala had its origins in a conversation Grizzell Middle School student Caroline Gross had during Thanksgiving break.

It was over Thanksgiving that Gross learned from her cousin, Natalie, about the United Nations Foundation program Girl Up, which has a mission to help girls living in areas where being female is difficult.

That initial conversation led her to start her own Girl Up club at Grizzell, she said.

Gross' club is 20 members strong, comprising sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students with their self-made mission "to help today's girls so they could help the world tomorrow."

The club's first project was inspired by a family connection Gross has to Guatemala.

This past spring break, Gross visited her aunt in Guatemala, who Gross said built the school where she and other Grizzell Girl Up members decided to send hygiene care packages.

The care packages, which included items such as sanitary pads, nail clippers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, underwear, floss and deodorant, were given to sixth grade girls.

Many girls there end up missing school while on their periods because they don't have access to pads, Gross said.

To combat this problem, Gross and other students raised money for care packages that included 10 pads per hygiene kit, she said.

To raise funds, Gross and other club members sold wristbands, conducted a raffle and asked for donations on the Tartan Ridge web page.

Once the students began spreading the word, "money honestly poured in," said Corrine Evans, Grizzell principal.

Now, ideas for the club's next project include participating in the Girl Up organization's SchoolCycle project that raises money for students to obtain bikes to get to school.

Seventh-grader Devyn LaRue, a Girl Up club member, said she knows how much harder being a girl must be outside of America, in developing countries with less access to education and rights.

"I'd really love to help other girls succeed," she said, and know what it feels like to have confidence in the ability to receive an education.

Devyn LaRue's sister, Meryl LaRue, is also a club member and said she felt strongly about giving back to other girls who didn't have as many advantages as she and her peer group had here in Dublin.

Evans said she's proud her students initiated the project and carried it out by themselves.

"I think they understand that being a citizen isn't just about following laws and learning and being a student, it's about giving back, and it's about empowering other girls to be the best people they can be," Evans said.