The huge smiles of gratitude from Miriam and four of her five school age children pictured here says it all . . . THANK YOU to everyone who donated school supplies and to many volunteers who shopped, served as “sherpas” transporting donations to Cozumel, filled backpacks or distributed school supplies to 162 children. An additional 80 children with disabilities and their 8 classroom teachers benefitted from extra supplies donated to the CAM school plus 20 more children who received supplies given to the Vida Abundante Church youth group.
All of the students are from families in need identified by pastors, church lay leaders, non-profit organization leaders and local resident volunteers based on their personal knowledge of the family’s economic situation or unique circumstances. Approximately 2/3 of the students who received school supplies in August are kindergarten through elementary grades; 1/3 are middle or high school students plus a few who attend a local university.
School attendance is “obligatory” (but not enforced) for youth to age 12. The exciting trend we’re seeing over the years is the increasing number of students continuing their education into middle, high school and the university, especially young women. It is much more expensive for students to attend middle and high school due to the increased costs of supplies as well as public school registration fees. A number of parents have shared with us their children would not be able to continue their education without receiving this type of help.
During the past several weeks I’ve had a chance to talk with 33 (~20%) of the 162 children during home visits. Nearly all of them feel they are doing well in their classes. Some of these children have incredible odds to overcome that detract from learning like hunger, lack of home electricity for light to do homework, family situations that include abuse/alcohol/abandonement or parents who can not read or write to help them. They LOVE their backpacks with supplies and are so proud to receive them.
Our 2013 goal is to help 180 children. Each year we wonder if/how it will be possible to gather enough bags, supplies and shoes for the children in greatest need. Through the generous donations of many individuals, families, and groups in the US, Canada as well as visitors and local Cozumel residents, we are well on our way to collecting basic supplies for next summer. Here are the top five needs listed in priority order:
Backpacks and messenger bags (all sizes). Watch for end-of-season sales at discount stores selling off their inventory.
Athletic shoes. Greatest need is any color/style of children’s sizes 3+ through adults’ size 8 (white preferred, accent color OK)
Pencil holders (any style pouch or slider box)
Click here for more information about the School Supplies Project.