Thankful For My Community!

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By SHARON ALLEN
Retired LAPS teacher
 
Over the past 10 weeks I have been working with the students in the Aspen K-Kids club to collect and pack books to create school libraries in the English-speaking African countries of Botswana and Kenya.
 
Most of the rural schools where these books are being sent have little in their classrooms save a chalkboard and a teacher, and often there are 50 or more children per class! 
 
This project has expanded well beyond the borders of Aspen School and has truly blossomed into an entire community effort! While my original goal was to try and send 2 school libraries (2000 books), as of this past week 78 boxes of books – 6448 books for 6 school libraries –  weighing over 2500 pounds left the Los Alamos post office for the first part of their journey to the African continent.
 
In addition, each of the 6 schools will receive 1-2 boxes full of teacher-materials, personal notes, handmade posters and bookmarks donated by local teachers and school children.
 
In Botswana school libraries will be sent to Palapye Central, Maunatlala Primary, and Moreomabele Primary. In Kenya the schools receiving libraries from Los Alamos are Dr. Williams Baptist Primary School, Rongo Primary, and Kambogo Primary. 
 
None of these libraries would have happened without the support of the generous Los Alamos community and I am so grateful to live in such a giving place! My sons, students, teachers, friends and neighbors from ages 5 to 90 gave of their time and energy to make these libraries a reality and I couldn’t be more thankful!  Hardly a day went by that I didn’t return to my home to find donations of books, heavy-duty boxes, rolls of tape, and more books stacked outside my door!  
 
More book drives are already scheduled for the country of Swaziland this upcoming spring, so if you are interested in donating good used children’s books (through 8th grade reading level), please save them until February when more information will be available. 
 
While the cost of $500 to send one school library is quite reasonable, funds are certainly needed in addition to the donation of books. Aspen’s K-Kids are having a popcorn sale at their recesses to help raise shipping funds for these books.
 
If you are interested in making a donation toward the shipping costs for these libraries, please visit www.africanlibraryproject.org, click the Donate button at the top of the page, choose “book drive shipping donation”, and use the code SW10-11.  
 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that books really can change lives!
 
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