The gift of education and love


Joseph Pratt

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School is right around the corner, which means office supplies are out on the shelves of most local retailers. While browsing these stores, it isn’t hard to notice the astonishingly low price tag on some of the smaller, more common items. These low prices mean that notebooks can cost less than 20 cents, a box of crayons can be as cheap as 25 or 50 cents, and so on. Supplying a kid with clothes and school supplies can be costly, but for an extra few bucks each year, supplies can be bought and donated to those in need, creating a serious impact on the lives of many.

One possibility, and one that helps children in your own back yard, is to buy supplies to donate to local teachers. Teachers are on the front line and work with hundreds of kids every week. No one knows the needs of the kids better than the teachers. Donating supplies to a teacher can ensure they get into the hands of a kid that needs them the most.

Another option, and one of a larger impact, can be a donation of supplies to a group that boxes gifts for Operation Christmas Child.

Every December, Operation Christmas Child sends hundreds of thousands of gift boxes to children in countries in dire need. Since the organization is a religious one, the boxes do contain religious propaganda. However, the biggest impact of the program is that the boxes contain items the children in these struggling countries could really use and also take much delight in.

The boxes typically contain basic, non-liquid hygiene items, school supplies, toys, candy, and more.

The beauty of the project is that the children who receive these boxes have sometimes never tasted candy or have never played with a ball. These gifts give the children a break from reality and a taste of something special that they’ve possibly never experienced.

Another key aspect is the opportunity to attend school.

African schooling requires students to provide all of their own supplies. Without the supplies, they cannot attend school. The diversity of cost between Africa and a country like the United States is so major that a box of crayons in Africa can cost as high as $8. Not only is the cost drastically higher, but the pay is also extremely lower. Many of those in Africa are labeled as living in absolute poverty, making less in a week than those who earn American minimum wage do in an hour. With a box of crayons possibly costing more than a week’s work, it just isn’t possible for a family to afford the opportunity.

Since costs are high and wage is low in many of these countries, a simple donation of pencils and other supplies can put a child in school.

There are many local churches and organizations that have affiliated group with Operation Christmas Child and these places gladly accept donations.

I have been making personal donations to Shawnee State University’s chapter, which is filled with excellent and caring individuals. In only two years, the group has changed the lives of over 3,000 kids. The SSU chapter plans on boxing 2,000 more this year.

If you would like to make a donation to this group, donations could be dropped off to me in my office at the Portsmouth Daily Times and I would gladly deliver them to the organization.

It is mind blowing to consider how a few extra dollars from the many in our already giving community could play a part in changing the lives of children all over the world.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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