How Much Does a Pencil Cost? July, 2014

Happy group with their supplies

These kids were so pleased with their new backpacks and school supplies

You don’t have to spend much time in Cozumel to notice some remarkable differences between Mexican and U.S. culture. But it goes way beyond food, language and customs. I’ve noticed the eagerness of Cozumel children to attend school and wondered if their U.S. peers share that same degree of longing for opportunity. Perhaps education is something we too often take for granted, never dreaming we couldn’t “afford” to go to school.

In U.S. schools, pens, pencils, paper, and even computers are supplied to students. Education is valued in Cozumel, but learning materials must be brought to school by the students. The financial burden of providing supplies prevent many children from attending. But how much could a pencil possible cost? On the island, the average cost of a backpack, notebooks, pens, pencils, and other supplies on the list of required materials exceeds the entire weekly income of many families. Now multiply that by 4 to 10 children per family and you’ve got a dilemma for those with limited resources.

Happy group with their supplies

These girls were very happy to show off their new backpaks

Friends of Cozumel donors have made it possible for us to provide school supplies to dozens of families over the last several years. Thanks very much. Then when U.S. office supply stores began offering promotional buys of nearly free pencils and rulers, our donations really increased. The word was out. Bargain hunters loved snatching up those great deals and soon we were able to increase the number of families receiving our help. This year (drum roll, please) we’ll be able to send at least 300 children to school in Cozumel. Three hundred! We couldn’t do it without our generous supporters.

Yesterday the 2014 distribution began. The smiles and hugs of gratitude are all the evidence needed to show that your donations are making a difference. Children are thrilled to be able to go to school with their new backpacks and shoes. So sit back and enjoy that good feeling for just a minute. Then jump up and go out to an office supply store and grab those bargains for next year. We’ll need them.

~Phyllis from Nebraska

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