Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Secret Santa's Sleigh

As you know, I'm currently posessed with the idea of helping the Boys School of Bingerville acheive their goal of updating their library, and creating a computer lab. So far, I am getting support, and have a (nearly) definate source for some refurbished computers. (BTW The OLPC project we were promoting in an earlier post isn't getting the kind of support I hoped for, so we're going to try to do it on our own later on. Still, the OLPC is the kind of project that Children of the Diaspora United really thinks is cool, so we say RIGHT ON and encourage everyone to check it out for themselves!)

So anyway, as I was thinking about this project and the boys in Bingerville, and talking with my colleagues at work, we thought it would be a really great idea to try to connect the kids at my school with the kids at Bingerville -- to create some human connection, some interest in the kids in these kids all the way on the other side of the ocean, and hey, it will be fun!

The French teacher got into the idea, too, because her students are doing projects on Francophone Africa. We thought it would help make the language "real" to them. So we have embarked on an interim project -- the "Secret Santa International Big Brother Big Sister Initiative," we call it -- or Secret Santa's Sleigh, for short.

The idea is simple: students in the French class, and other students anr children of friends etc, can pick the name of one of the boys and be his Secret Santa! As it turned out, the kids are psyched, and we've got about 150 of the 253 students matched up. Each Secret Santa will get a gift (new or used) valued at around $5.00. They can write a brief message, which the French students will translate into French for the boys at the school. In turn, the Bingerville boys will write thank you notes and the Santa's will translate them when they receive them. Simple, right?

Well, yeah. It is. Except...for shipping costs!!

It costs about as much to travel to Cote d'Ivoire as it will to send the gifts by overnight guaranteed delivery service!! But do we see impossiblity? Of course not! It's an opportunity for others to help out too.

Secret Santa's Sleigh is an initiative to collect donations - just from friends and family, really, since we're not yet a full fledged organization -- to get the funds for shipping. It's going slowly, but we're confident we'll meet the goal. We need about $2,000 to be completely clear of any potential problems -- customs or other taxes, towards gifts if we don't get enough donations, etc.
So far we've raised:

  • CK Brooklyn NY $10.00
  • NS Plainfield $ 5.00
  • DM Somerset $ 100.00 and 5 friends
  • DL Bloomfield $25.00
  • RW Jersey City $70.00
  • KP Montclair $100.00
  • HB South Orange $300.00
  • MH Passaic $50.00
  • MA Jersey City $20.00
  • DJ Montclair $20.00
  • JH Newark $50.00
  • AL Bloomfield $20.00
  • D&B M (Trumpets) Montclair $20.00
  • CP (Trumpets) Montclair $10.00
  • Anonymous Donors (Trumpets) Montclair - $75.00
  • RE Passaic Park $50.00
  • JL Montclair $75.00
  • J & B Montclair $20.00
  • CP friends jersey city $50.00
  • KR jersey city $100.00
  • KP jersey city $500.00
  • TC New York $25.00

We've still got a long way to go (no, not as far as in the pix -that's just a cool image!), and we don't have much time...! But....I figure most of us spend $5, $10, $20 dollars on stuff we don't need, that's bad for us, and that has no meaning or lasting value what-so-ever, regularly, and without much thought. Why not spend the same on something that will light up a childs face, and give them hope and a memory that will surely fuel them for years to come?

I am certain we'll find plenty of friends who feel the same way.

Thanks to those who've already shown that they do.

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