I hope this post finds you well.
I am writing a short blurb to let you know about an amazing opportunity to have a HAND in making a positive impact in my community, here in St. Vincent. As previous posts explained, I am partnered with a community based organization, CBO, in Keartons, a fishing and farming village on the outskirts of a main town, Barrouallie- about 50 minutes northwest from the capitol of Kingstown. It is a grassroots organization in every definition of the word, and I was requested by the organization to help develop their capacity and resources. There is a lot of work to be done- and YOU CAN HELP!
A couple of weeks ago, my pre-service training group and I were visited by the founders and chief operators of Hands Across the Sea, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Massachusetts. Harriet and T.L. are a husband and wife team that (get this!) sail around the Caribbean on their catamaran from December to May working with “local teachers, school principles, and US Peace Corps Volunteers.” From June to November, the non-profit works to collect and organize books (from donors and library sales) to be shipped to partner schools and organizations. Hands began in 2008 with 3 schools, and partners with 41 schools (and 7,100 students) -AND GROWING!- today.
Hands Across Sea’s goal (in a nutshell) is to raise children’s literacy levels by helping schools stock and update their libraries, and provide other classroom resources such as: art supplies, ink toner, etc.
The Caribbean Literacy and School Support (CLASS) program is an amazing opportunity for friends and family members (like yourself) of Peace Corps Volunteers (like myself) to donate (large or small) to the communities we are serving.
- How does it work?
Hands Book Drop: Collect “gently used” books (preferably with Caribbean themes/ characters) and donate them to Hands. Prior to shipping or dropping the book off, email Hands for a smoother donation process.
Donations can come from church groups, workplaces, schools (and so forth) rallying together to collect “gently used” books (for a list of other requirements for the books, please see here). Also, check out library book sales when they are happening in your area- it is a great way to pick up great books at a discounted rate!
Once collected, Hands takes care of it from there…
- What are the costs?
For shipping questions, you can contact Hands directly at 508-938-6307, or shoot them an email, and Hands can advise you on the best way to deal with shipping. All orders are shipped to MA. Hands then takes care of getting the donation to the volunteers (via tropical shipping).
Donations can also be made on Hands’ website.
- What’s in it for you?
Besides feeling warm and fuzzy inside??? You will have the assurance that the books and art supplies donated will go straight to the community center’s library (in progress!) and will be leant to children and adults to enjoy. I will gladly take pictures once it is up an operating and post them on my blog! And you will for sure get a sunny and warm Vincentian “THANK YOU” note from myself and the members.
Not to mention, your donation is of course, tax-deductible.
- In conclusion…
Hands Across the Sea strives to create positive relationships with principles, teachers, US Peace Corps Volunteers, and the Ministry of Education in the Caribbean through support and providing resources to increase literacy rates.
There are a myriad of issues out here that need attention, resources, and love… Donating through Hands is one way you can help me to create an environment of empowerment for my community in Keartons. The organization is set on getting youth off the street after school, and strengthening their ability to read, feel, contemplate, and create.
I am in the process of conducting a needs assessment of Keartons. In so doing, I am also informally asking children (and parents) what kinds of books they would like to see at their community center. Stay tuned for specific titles and genres…
- One last thing…
I cannot begin to express how appreciative I am of you considering to donate to the Keartons United Community Organization through Hands Across the Sea. Even if it is one book, one bottle of glue, or one pack of stickers it is something more than we had before. More than the material things you will send, you will have a direct hand in expanding the minds of this community.
My promise to you is to keep you updated on the youths’ progress with reading and explicitly how the resources have been utilized.
Please feel free to contact me with further questions/ comments. For logistics, contact Hands Across the Sea directly, or I would be happy to direct your queries.
Thanks a MILLION!!!