Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pennies for Pencils Kickoff

Today begins our month long change drive, Pennies for Pencils. To kick it off, our family decided to donate what is in what Tommy calls "the money bank".

We talked about cashing his change in and giving it away so our friends in Guatemala will have school supplies.

At 3 1/2, he is getting interested in talking about Guatemala a little more. Maybe because he hears us talk about it so often or maybe because he just wants to ride in an airplane again. Whatever the case, he was excited that his money was going to Guatemala.

His first response when I asked him how much he thought was in the bag? "Forty dollah."

Was he close?

Not quite...even better!


I met with the principal last week. He told me that there are currently 400 students enrolled in school. Only a few leave Pueblo Nuevo to attend school (a private school in Parramos) and there are children that do not attend school at all. He expects 400 to enroll again in December. Their school supplies are very basic. Each child is required to have a notebook, a pencil and a pen in black, blue and red. He mentioned repeatedly that it is the responsibility of "the fathers" to purchase school supplies and because there are a growing number of children in Pueblo Nuevo that do not have fathers, less are able to enroll (or stay) in school if their mothers cannot provide their supplies. Even some fathers are unable to purchase supplies.

Supplies cost about $5.59 per child if purchased in Guatemala. It is typical for families in this area to make $2 a day or less. The average number of children per family in Pueblo Nuevo is 4 or 5. A family with 5 school-aged children would be expected to pay nearly $30 for school supplies. For some, this is an entire month's wages.

We want to relieve this burden and make sure that every child that is allowed to attend school enrolls this year. We are praying for school supply funding that will cover 450 students with one notebook (the specific notebooks required are expensive), three pencils and three pens each. Yes, we could easily collect the required school supplies and ship them to Guatemala, but we will not do that. If we ship these supplies from the U.S. instead of purchasing them from the local school supply shop in Pueblo Nuevo, we will be hurting two of our families. By purchasing these supplies locally, two families that own the small school supply store will benefit GREATLY.

We're off to a good start with $79.87. Just with the spare change in our house, more than 14 student's supplies are fully funded.

It is not too late to get involved! So far we have a couple of schools in Mississippi, possibly one in Florida, a couple of teachers in Alabama, a business in Atlanta and girl scout troops in my hometown collecting. I am still talking with several churches and teachers/schools that may get involved, but we need more help. You do not have to be a part of a school or other group to participate. Individual families can do what we did. Gather your change, exchange it for cash and donate it to us to be used to purchase school supplies. If you are interested in participating, individually or as a group, email me at
terry @ across all borders.org.

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