Students, staff and friends of Commonwealth Connections Academy held its annual Student Versus Staff Basketball Game recently at Jim Thorpe Area High School.

During the event, they strived take part in a half-time free throw frenzy to try to break last year's record of 500 free throws in 40 minutes. Their goal was to shoot 1,000 baskets for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and raise funds for Hoops of Hope through a basket raffle and half court challenge.

The hooping event for unfortunate children was started in 2004 by a then 10-year-old Austin Gutwein. Gutwein is now 15 years old, but as he has grown so has his goals and funds to help children severely affected by HIV and AIDS.

Last year the funds raised through this event, organized by Commonwealth Connections Academy, were used to help build a school for the children so they could learn to read and write. This year's Hoops for Hope funds will go to World Vision which facilitates the building of Hoops of Hope projects.

Austin's passion to help children has led to thousands of participants and raised approximately $1 million over the past five years. Hoops of Hope events have funded the building of a high school for 1000 students, a medical lab and counseling center and most recently, a water project in Kenya, as well as a second medical clinic in Zambia.

This year, the goal is to raise $580,000 to complete dormitories for the high school as well as to provide for care centers to be built in Swaziland. One hundred percent of all Hoops funds go to World Vision. who facilitate the building of Hoops of Hope projects