Last year, I volunteered for a day at my son’s kindergarten class. My first task was to replace the “used crayons” with new ones because the children do not like to use crayons with worn down points. I asked to keep the “old” crayons and was told that I could. My second job was to throw away all the pencils with worn down erasers!
That night, my family discussed the waste in Aidan’s classroom. My then-3rd grader, Ailis, suggested that we send the supplies to Ghana since we had recently begun sending donations to the Ayi Owen School. I received the go-ahead from James and Bill, so we boxed up crayons and pencils and sent them off. But Ailis wasn’t done. Without telling me, she wrote a letter to her principal asking to address the school at assembly. Ailis asked her schoolmates and teachers to consider donating their old school supplies to the Ayi Owen School. She made a collection box, included photos of the students in Ghana, and set it up in the school office. Since then, we’ve collected nearly 12 moving boxes full of crayons, markers, pencils, paper, and other school supplies!
Recently, Bill wrote us that the arts program at Ayi Owen is now available to the entire school, not just the two youngest grades. It’s amazing that the waste from just one classroom, in one school, in one state, can support an entire arts program at the Ayi Owen School! The students don’t mind that the crayons aren’t pointy, and if they could buy pencils they wouldn’t have erasers on them anyway. Markers, colored pencils, colored paper, glitter, and most other common arts & crafts supplies aren’t available in Ghana, even if the funds existed. If a few more people collected unwanted supplies from their schools, imagine what Ayi Owen could do!