$1,000 of school supplies

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From Houston to Nairobi and Nairobi back to Houston back to Nairobi back…back…back…you get it! Friends have each other’s back!  The beautiful bracelets made by our friends in Kenya have been sold in the front yard, the soccer park, to family, the piano teacher, and during the school carnival.  It is really hard to put into words all of the experiences that we’ve shared with our partner school.  When you find yourself in a library full of U.S. students skyping with a room full of Kenyan students, it seems almost unbelievable!  We talk with them and learn about their lives and their culture.  And of course, we HOKEY POKEY!

Children are amazing with their ability to understand and reach out to each other in friendship.  These kids all want the best for each other.  Competition is lost when you really just want another child to be able to go to school.

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After many bracelet sells, we can now send the children in Kenya the money that we have all helped to earn.  We have learned a lot along the way. Geography, communication skills, technology etiquette, history, marketing, entrepreneurial skills, and current events are just a few of the subjects we have worked on. Just as importantly, we have learned about kindness, understanding, compassion, respect, and love.
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We are happy to be involved in making an education possible for 33 children with this money. We hope that more people will join with us as we learn and give.  Thank you!!! to everyone (teen soccer kids at the park you too!) who has donated to this project through which 100% of the moola is spent on school supplies for children who would be unable to attend school without the love and support of others.  We think it’s a great deal!

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Letters to Liberia

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We held our School Ties meeting Thursday morning this week. We recapped the Ebola situation and read the letter that Sampson sent me. We were all pretty much in tears by the end of it and the children were all concerned. We decided to join The Joy Maker Challenge as a club and find kind things to do to make Christmas a happy time for more kids. As our first kind act, we wrote notes to Sampson and his students in Liberia. Many of the kids drew pictures of snowmen, hearts, sunbeams, and flowers. One student wrote, “I’m sincerly will pray for you and your kids. Because some day God will bless you and I will be very thankful for you.” I loved how our club kids felt strongly about the situation and want to ease the pain others feel. Every time we meet as a club, my feelings are reinforced about the goodness that can come from activities that teach children to care and allow them ways to express their desire to help.
We hope you’ll join us in a Joy Maker Challenge
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Ebola: How to Help

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After posting the letter from my friend in Liberia, it was suggested that we do something to help.  With over 13,042 cases reported and 4, 818 deaths this disease continues to ravage West Africa (CDC).  As I thought about what we could do, I realized that reinventing the wheel is not a good idea here.  There are people and organizations on the ground working to improve the situation.  We should find ways to support their efforts.  In the future, when giving, the CIDI has posted Guidelines for Giving:

When disaster strikes overseas, people want to help.  The good news is this: the easiest way to support response efforts is also the most economical efficient, and effective – through cash donations to relief agencies.

Financial contributions allow professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster survivors, when it is needed. Cash donations allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site, avoiding the delays, and steep transportation and logistical costs that can encumber material donations. Some commodities, particularly food, can almost always be purchased locally – even after devastating emergencies and in famine situations.

Cash purchases also convey benefits beyond the items procured. They support local merchants and local economies, ensure that commodities are fresh and familiar to survivors, that supplies arrive expeditiously and that goods are culturally, nutritionally and environmentally appropriate.

When disasters happen, many Americans respond by collecting items in food and clothes drives, intending to provide for those in need. It is not unusual for community and civic groups to collect thousands of pounds of material – typically used clothing, canned food and bottled water – realizing only afterward that they do not know what to do with it.

In-kind and material donations require transportation, which is often prohibitively expensive and logistically complicated, given post-disaster infrastructure and challenges.  Further, shipments of material donations require an identified recipient on the ground – someone willing to receive, sort and distribute the material.

In contrast to how cash donations are used, unsolicited household donations can clog supply chains, take space required to stage life-saving relief supplies for distribution, and divert relief workers’ time. Collections of household goods serve no useful function in the acute phase of an emergency operation. Managing piles of unsolicited items may actually add to the cost of relief work through forcing changes to logistical and distribution plans and creating more tasks for relief workers.

Before collecting goods, consider transportation expenses, storage and distribution challenges, and the real-time needs of those in the affected area.

Cash contributions to established, legitimate relief agencies are always more beneficial to survivors and to relief operations.  Keep reading for more information on why cash, rather than material donations, are the most effective way to help.

A lot of info but important to know!  If you would like to help in the Ebola effort, please visit the CIDI web site and consider making a donation.  I liked this one from GlobalGiving.  Perhaps we can pass on a few sodas or an extra pair of shoes to help someone who’s life depends on a Good Samaritan.