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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... August 2006
in this issue
  • Delivering Learning Tools to Iraqi Children
  • Why School Matters
  • Fact
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • Back-to-school shopping can be exciting for kids, whether they’re in first grade or college. But not every child experiences the thrill of opening a fresh set of markers or carrying a new backpack. You can help change that. Your family can make “back to school” a little more hopeful for kids in need of basic school supplies. Read on and we’ll tell you how. Happy end of summer!


    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Delivering Learning Tools to Iraqi Children
    Operation Iraqi Children Logo

    Make a Difference... With the correct school supplies, children are more apt to go to school ready to learn. While shopping, collect such things as markers, pencils, pens, glue, calculators, socks, underwear, backpacks, and tissue. Your family can donate just a few items, or organize a donation drive in your church, work, or with friends. Donate the supplies to a local agency or to Iraqi schools through Operation Iraqi Children, a Kansas City- based nonprofit that provides new school supplies to Iraqi children.

    Photo: Courtesy Operation Iraqi Children

    Why School Matters

    Talk About It ... Use this “back to school” time to talk with your children about the profound value of education - both for them and for children around the world. You can be education’s most important salesperson!

    • Ask your children why they think school matters. How would their life be different if they had never gone to school?
    • Talk about why most people believe that universal elementary school education is a basic human right. Share this month’s fact (below) with your child.
    • Discuss why it can be challenging for poor children to succeed in school. Often these students are distracted from learning by issues like lack of stable housing and poor nutrition. Ask your children to imagine how it would feel to be hungry during school or not have a quiet place to study.

      Learn About It ... To jump start these conversations, check out some great books about first-day jitters and school fun, such as Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books by Diane DeGroat, Countdown to the First Day of School by AnnMarie Harris, and Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar.

    Fact

    UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization. Here’s what they say:

  • 1. Life expectancy rises by as much as 2 years for every 1 percent increase in literacy.
  • 2. Education enhances the ability of households to manage health problems, improve nutrition and childcare, and plan for the future.
  • 3. Educated women marry later, have fewer children and receive better prenatal care.
  • 4. Children of mothers who have been to school are healthier, better nourished, and more likely to attend and succeed in school than children of mothers who have never gone to school.

  • One Family's Story
    Becky Cook organizing supplies

    It all started in March 2005, when 15-year-old Becky Cook of Cloquet, Minnesota noticed an article in Reader’s Digest appealing for donations from Operation Iraqi Children, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that helps Americans send school-supply kits to Iraqi children.

    Cook wasn’t looking for a project to put on her college resume or a way to impress her parents. She was just struck by the plea and wanted to help. She contacted church groups and talked to her assistant principal about what the school district could do. She entered a small advertisement in the local paper-- and became the subject of an entire article. People responded by sending money for the supplies, and moral support for her hard work.

    However, Cook realized that to be truly successful she had to raise student interest and reach more people who might contribute. Her solution: create a video. It shows her searching her house for the needed school supplies and, when she finds them (usually under a spotlight-stealing dog), explaining the necessity of each.

    Next she received donated bags and boxes from the local Super One grocery, and sent some to every school that agreed to participate. She noted on each bag which school supply (ruler, composition book, paper) a class was assigned to give. A pizza party was the reward for the class contributing the most at each school.

    With this effort, plus a speech she gave at her church, the donations poured in. Soon Cook had collected over 2,000 items, enough to create 200 kits. She enlisted the help of her parents, Mary and Jim Cook, to buy zip-lock bags and shuttle her around town. Then, with the help of friends and family, Becky put together the 200 kits and layered them in donated boxes. The Cloquet Mail Station offered a deal on shipping, and off they went to Operation Iraq Children for ultimate distribution by American soldiers.

    Cook went into this task with no expectations for how well she could do, but just a hope that she could help someone. At first she didn’t think the project would require much time-she’d simply collect school supplies and ship them off. But the deeper she got into it, the more she learned how contagious one person’s caring could be. She received thank-you letters from people all over the city, and lived an experience she won’t ever forget.

    Photo: Becky Cook Organizing Supplies

    News From DGT

    Doing Good Together has been awarded a grant from the Michigan-based Ronald and Eva Kinney Family Foundation. This gift makes it possible for us to inspire and help even more families make community service a part of their lives. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and support.

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