kids service projects

Making a Splash for Uganda

Our friends from the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization asked us to help them build a sustainable pig farm so that they could enjoy food and provide themselves with a source of income.
We decided that we would dedicate ourselves to this seemingly impossible task.  How were we, sitting here in the US, going to build a pig farm in Uganda?

We began with a pool party fund raiser, A Piggery Party: Make A Splash for Uganda, and invited all our friends from our community.

We wanted our donation requests to be fun, and not too intimidating. 

We took a box of envelopes and numbered them 1-100.  We spent several weeks decorating them.

And we attached them to our board. Under the board was a picture of the women and children we hoped to help.Soon we were ready to host our party.  We served hot dogs and lemonade.

Each guest was asked to choose an envelope.  They could donate the amount of the number on the envelope.  We included our favorite book quotes as book markers, inside each envelope.

With so much support from our community, we were able to raise the funds needed to build a piggery!

And the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in Masaka Uganda is able to start construction.

And now they are growing the food needed to feed piglets and have supplies to build stys.

Miracles are possible!

 

Reflections: Max Finney by Brooks Langdon

Anything can matter in life, family, friends, school, and even sports. Something that we don’t always realize that is just as important is time. You never know what your next step will be. Sometimes, people wish time away. They want to meet their future and see what happens. They forget, that the present is just as, or more important than the next step in their life.

Humans do not live forever. There is a limit to your time on earth, Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind,” Nathaniel Hawthorne. You only have a certain amount of time to do the opportunities that are given to you in life. Sometimes, your life on earth can be cut short. I had a friend who was in Wyoming on vacation in the summer. He died in a very unfortunate accident at the age of 14 on July 7th, 2018. He lived his life to the fullest even though it was cut short. He was proud to have been admitted to a prestigious Catholic school in Houston, but would never graduate.

My friend Max made a good impression on many people. Even though he is now gone, everybody he met remembers him, because of his kindness and compassion. He was a great lacrosse player. I remember the first day of lacrosse in Texas was scary. I was in 5th grade, and was by far the smallest. He came over to me and we talked, and it was the start of a great friendship with many long-lasting memories.

I remember wrestling on the trampoline. I remember when we went to the Natural Science Museum of Houston. He visited Connecticut over winter. We went sledding on the Patterson golf course and ran over a rabbit skull. I remember going to New York with him and going to Central Park and seeing many other famous places in the city. I remember, later that spring, we saw an Army Navy lacrosse game at West Point, because his brother played at West Point. It went into overtime, and unfortunately, Navy won. I was blessed to share so many other memories with Max. This proves that you should never waste time and always take the opportunities that are given to you. We constantly complain about having to wait, but time slowly ticks away. Once you are elderly, you will look back on your life and wish you had done something worthwhile.

Many people are not granted the same opportunities that we are. For example, people anywhere, even in our own country do not get the chance to see New York City. We take going to New York for granted because we have been there before.

This is why my friend was such a good person. He never took any of his opportunities for granted. When Max visited us he helped our charity, The Wonderland BookSavers run an event in Bridgeport, CT. He helped us with our Destination Imagination play and also put his handprint on the handprint poster along with other kids.

IMG_2918

We decided, since Max would never graduate from his Catholic high school, to create a four-year scholarship for one high school student, attending the Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, in his honor. It is called the Max Finney Foundation Scholarship in honor of my friend. The Wonderland BookSavers are paying for it with the money we raised from our annual lemonade stand. The Board of the school decided that it will be granted to a boy who is entering his freshman year, this September, at Red Cloud Indian School. Max lived his life to the fullest and even though he died at such a young age, he still accomplished so much. Never again will I take anything for granted, or wish time away. Thank you, Max, for all of the memories, and I will always try to live up to the example you have set in your own short life.

IMG_2920

Max’s family has established a foundation in his memory.  This foundation provides scholarships for young students, like Max.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact them directly at Max Finney Foundation

Wonderland BookSavers’ 2016 Quote of the Year

Written by Madeline

In August of 2012, Claire, Emma and Brooks Morgan and I read A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. The four of us had just recently formed into a book club, and this was the first book we read as a club. We decided to complete a project after each book we read, and we designated a quote-banner as our project for A Single Shard.

cropped-wonderland-booksavers

Left to right: Claire, Emma, Madeline, and Brooks Morgan work on their “A Single Shard” banners

We chose to emblazon our banners with an inspiring quote from A Single Shard which goes as follows. “Your mind knows that you are going to Songdo. But you must not tell your body. It must think, one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.”

Shard bookcover

It has become our annual tradition to choose an inspiring quote. Our quotes are always from a book our club has read or from an inspirational person we have read about together. Last Friday, we completed our fifth annual quote banner.

This year, we chose a quote from Phillipians 4:13 which reads “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”

We chose this quote since our faith has been instrumental in our charity, both in a sense that it has inspired many of our projects, and because many of our community partners are churches.

After taping the banner down on table so it would not slide as we worked, we began to transcribe the quote onto our banners in pencil, and trace the pencil in marker.

We chose to make the first letter of the quote an illuminated letter, since we learned how to make illuminated letters and manuscripts in preparation for teaching a medieval camp at the beginning of summer.illuminated%22f%22Our banners were enhanced with decorations such as a bookshelf with titles of books we have read together.booksonbanner.jpgOur team and our charity has grown significantly since we made our first quote banner. Each year we have continued this custom, and each year our banners inspire us to new heights. Only a few months after we began our book club in 2012, we had transformed into Wonderland BookSavers, and a few years after founding Wonderland BookSavers, we have transformed into a 501(c)(3), Wonderland BookSavers, Inc.

We look forward to another year of reading and donating books one hill, one valley, and one day at a time!4doingquote

Wonderland BookSavers Brings 1,000 Books to Boston

Written by Madeline

Last December, we traveled to Boston, bringing with us 2,000 books which we donated to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children.

Pictures from our December donation in Boston

Every time a child visits the hospital, they are able to choose a book to keep and bring home with them.

On August ninth, we trekked back up to Boston with another 1,000 books to replenish the bookshelves at the hospital. When we arrived, we were greeted by community partners Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx; Reach Out and Read coordinator Marika Michelangelo; Anne Carroll from Tufts Floating hospital; and hospital and Reach Out and Read interns.

We unloaded boxes of books from our cars, placed the boxes on dollies, and carted the dollies through the hospital and into the elevators.

When the metal elevator doors opened, we guided the dollies through the hallway, and unloaded some of the boxes into the closet where extra books are kept for the hospital to refill their shelves with. Next, we brought our books over to the same bookshelves we filled last December. Almost all of the 2,000 books we had brought 9 months ago had been selected and taken home by children.

We opened our boxes of books which had already been sorted into three levels: pre-school through third grade, fourth to sixth grade, and middle/high school. We then stocked the books on the shelves in those respective categories and order.

The hospital and Reach Out and Read personnel briefly interviewed and questioned us about our project, and after our discussing our charity, we thanked everyone and departed.

rortweetwbs.png

After leaving the hospital, we went to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is the second presidential library we have visited as a team. We explored the museum and archives.boston9

Our excursion to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Library concluded our trip to Boston, but we will look forward to bringing more books to Boston in the near future.

Aid for Ecuador

by Brooks Morgan

In the summer of 2013, Wonderland BookSavers read A Long Walk for Water, by Linda Sue Park.

220px-ALongWalkToWater

This amazing book is a fictionalized account of the real-life story of a young boy, Salva, who is caught in the cross fire of the civil war in the Sudan. His happy childhood becomes a nightmare. As he matures to adolescence, Salva comes to realize that the search for clean water is a major cause of so much violence and unhappiness in his homeland.   As an adult, Salva traveled back to the Sudan, bringing the gift of clean water to his friends and enemies alike, thereby hoping to also bring the gift of peace to the warring villages.

 

The Wonderland BookSavers, being inspired by literature, recognized immediately the importance of clean water, not just in the Sudan, but also across many countries in the developing world. We decided to have a lemonade-stand style stand to raise funds and awareness. At the opening of a local public park, we hosted a Water 4 Water stand. We sold bottles of water for $2.00, and raised $150.00.

images

We used this money to purchase 3 simple water purifiers. We gave these to a teenage friend who was traveling to Ecuador. Each water purifier was placed in a separate village, allowing for clean water for 3 villages!

 

This past April another teenage friend was traveling to Ecuador for a mission trip to Monte Sinai, located in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He asked for donations of T-shirts to share with the children in the Rostro de Cristo orphanage. As soon as we heard this request, we knew the Wonderland BookSavers could again step up to help children in Ecuador.

IMG_4634

Within a few days we were able to gather over 100 T-shirts. Reid and I washed and folded all the shirts. We were very happy to think of other children enjoying all our cheerful shirts!

_89278577_89278576

Unfortunately, just as our friend was visiting Ecuador, an enormous earthquake occurred! Our friend was safe, but sadly, many others were injured. Currently the Ecuadorian government is trying to encourage travelers to reconsider Ecuador as a viable vacation destination. The earthquake not only cost many people their lives but has also done great economic damage to the country.

Our prayers are with the beautiful people of Ecuador.

Lemonade for Literacy

by Madeline

This past week, Pequot Library held its annual book sale. Pequot Library’s annual book sale has been dubbed the biggest and the best book sale in New England.pequotbooksalesignFor the last four years, Wonderland BookSavers has run a “Lemonade for Literacy” stand during the book sale. The purpose of Lemonade for Literacy is to raise donations to purchase books from Pequot Library’s book sale, and then donate those books. The books we obtained this year via Lemonade for Literacy and Pequot Library’s book sale will be going to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. lemonadestand3To prepare our stand and concessions, we spruced up some of our old signs and banners and created some new signs with recent pictures of our service work so customers could see the children we serve.

Each night, we baked new batches of brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats. Every morning before we went to the library, we made a new batch of homemade lemonade. We arrived at the library in the late morning each day to settle ourselves and set up our stand. We propped up a piece of plywood as a table on top of wooden crates, and then swept a yellow and white table cloth over our table. Next, we put our cooler filled with our ice cold lemonade to one side of our stand, and we arrayed our baked goods across the rest of the table. lemonadestand1Instead of having fixed prices on our commodities, we had all our goods priced by donation.

We ran our stand from about 11 AM to 4 PM each day of the book sale. We had many customers, but during the slower times of day, we passed time playing Apples to Apples, UNO, and reading books.

On the last day of the book sale, instead of running Lemonade for Literacy, we selected books from inside the expansive white tent, and then used our $212.50 that we raised through our lemonade stand to purchase 1,500 books.lemonadestand10Through our Lemonade for Literacy stand, we were able to benefit our longtime community partner Pequot Library while collecting books to donate to children in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

 

Wonderland BookSavers Donates 15,000 Books to Zimbabwe and Ghana

By Madeline

On Thursday June 9, Team Wonderland BookSavers donated 15,000 books which are currently headed to Zimbabwe and Ghana. Along with the books, we also donated over 100 letters written by the children at the Wetherbee School in Massachusetts. These letters will be going to children in Zimbabwe.

We methodically sorted the books based on whether they were primary or secondary reading level. Then, we packed the sorted books into labeled boxes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our community partner Mark Grashow, the president and co-founder of US Africa Children’s Fellowship, came with a tractor-trailer for us to fill with our books which will be delivered to Africa. When Mark arrived, we began loading our books into his truck.

gettingbooksintotruckposingwithmarkandbooks

We carefully arranged the boxes to maximize the space and to ensure that the boxes were secure so the books would be safe.

bookspackedintruck.JPG

After we finished laboriously transporting the heavy boxes of books from our palettes in the garage into Mark’s truck, Mark pulled out some pictures from his trips to Africa. He showed us children holding our books, and also recounted some stories of the children’s excitement when they receive our books.

I had the chance to interview Mark:

We are excited for our books to arrive in Zimbabwe and Ghana, and we can’t wait to see pictures and hear more stories about the children receiving our books!

 

 

Wonderland BookSavers’ Haitian-Creole Books Arrived in Haiti on May 17

By Madeline

Early last fall, we met with our community partner Susy Whitcomb, President of Haitian Educational Initiatives. Susy brought us pictures and videos of the kids at their school with our books. We had previously donated many French books to Haiti, but upon meeting with Susy, we discovered that the children in Haiti speak Haitian-Creole–not French–as their first language.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A Haitian child with one of our donated French books

The French books were helpful, but before the Haitian children could learn to read, they would have to learn French, a foreign language. Team Wonderland BookSavers decided that we wanted to get the Haitian children Haitian-Creole books so they could finally have books written in their native language.

creole books

Haitian-Creole books

After collaborating with our community partner Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx, we were able to obtain funds to purchase $1,099 worth of Haitian-Creole books. Since Zoe was so generous in giving us the funds to purchase the Haitian-Creole books, we along with the ZappRx team donated 2,000 books to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

Throughout this project, we have united American children with Haitian children through our “poster pals” program. Poster pals are essentially pen pals, except we exchange and create banners with notes and drawings instead of just letters.

IMG_3566

Kids work on one of the poster pals we sent to Haiti

Wonderland BookSavers held a community event at the Barnum School where we helped the kids decorate a Sneetch machine after we read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. At that event, we read a Haitian-Creole book to the children at Barnum School, and let the kids create banners for the children in Haiti.

Soon, the children at Barnum School will get a poster pals banner from the children in Haiti. Our Haitian-Creole books and poster pals were scheduled to arrive in Haiti in February, but due to a political coup and violence in Haiti, our books and poster pals were delayed in being delivered until May. On May 17, the children in Haiti received the first books they have ever seen written in their native language, and posters and drawings from us and American children.

kidswithbooks

children in Haiti holding our donated books

We are incredibly grateful to Susy Whitcomb and Zoe Barry for their assistance in this project. We are excited to see the children with their new books, and we are eagerly anticipating the poster pals which the Haitian children are sending back to America.

Title 1 School Donates Books to Zimbabwe

written by Brooks Morganpic 1.JPGToday, 5/9/16, we visited Emily G. Wetherbee school in Massachusetts. We are thrilled with their generosity. Francine, writing coach and head of community service said, “We’re trying to teach our students, here, to give to others. I work in a community where the kids get 100% free lunch and they get a lot of free services; it is a community of poverty and yet, we try to teach them that it doesn’t matter; you can still give to others. This is one way for students to share with other people.” Francine’s words reflect our mission, the greatest gift is giving.pic 2.JPGA 4th grade class helped us load the car with all the boxes that were donated. They were all very nice. Joshua was very good at carrying and organizing the boxes, Denise was so nice for holding the door open for those carrying boxes, otherwise we would have been locked out. Cameron, Adrian, Brady, Ninio, and Jose were very strong and able to carry the boxes to and into the car. Cameron, Joshua, Denise, Adrian, and Brady were also very good at answering some of our questions.pic 3

pic 4

Sombreros and sticky letters for the kids in Zimbabwe

pic 5

A letter one of the fourth graders wrote to the kids in Zimbabwe

pic 6

Some of the books donated to us by the Wetherbee School

After loading the car, I went inside and continued interviewing Francine. Francine spoke about the importance of giving to others, Alison, our team manager, said, “I think that’s so important, for kids who don’t have much to be able to give to other children. That’s one of the reasons that we started this letter writing campaign. We know it’s a way that kids can share with others, you can give a letter or a picture as a way to communicate. Francine added, “And I’ve read some of the letters and one or two of them almost made me cry because they’re saying something like ‘your new friend from America.’ At 4th grade, the kids are just so open, you know, they don’t know these people at all but they saw the video and saw what the situation was and thought oh, wow, we get to give them books!”pic 7Before we left, Francine wanted to give us more things to share with the children in Zimbabwe. She found a huge box of sticky foam letters and pictures and a huge stack of sombreros! We had a great time talking to the children and collecting the books. We hope to go back again if they want to collect some more books for us!pic 8

Written by Brooks Morgan

The Sneetch Event: From Our Local Library to Bridgeport to Haiti

By Madeline

Back in June 2015, Wonderland BookSavers donated 850 books to the Barnum School in Bridgeport, CT.

wbs@barnum

Donating books to the Barnum School in June

We spoke with the librarian, Maureen D’Ascanio, and she told us about the kids’ interests. She explained the hardships children at Barnum School face in their daily lives. Many of the children live in dire conditions and do not receive much support from their parents. Reading, she explained, is critical for a child’s success in all subjects at school. A love and understanding of literature and reading must be instilled at a young age to broaden a child’s academic capabilities and success.

readabookbarnum

A poster hanging from the ceiling at Barnum School’s Library

Dr. Seuss books are the favorite books of the younger kids at Barnum School. Dr. Seuss books are iconic and widely appreciated, making them less likely to be donated and given away. The books possess alluring creativity and an appealing rhyme scheme, making them very popular to younger readers. On the library shelves, we could see the prized pittance of Dr. Seuss books. Due to the demand and popularity of the Dr. Seuss books, children were not permitted to check those books out of the school library. So, we decided to raise money to purchase Dr. Seuss books for the kids at Barnum School.

drseussbooks

The Barnum School’s Dr. Seuss books before our donation

Wonderland BookSavers does not need money to operate. The only exceptions would be our annual bake sale at Pequot Library, Lemonade for Literacy, where we make lemonade and bake treats and use our earnings to purchase books for five dollars a box during the last day of the sale. The other exception is for our very recent project of purchasing $1,000 worth of Haitian-Creole books for the children we donate to in Haiti. The money was donated to us by our partner and sponsor, Zoe Barry, founder and CEO of ZappRx. In order to raise money, we decided to have a Dr. Seuss-themed fundraiser. We organized a community event at our local library, Pequot Library. We prepared materials and ideas, and sent out flyers to publicize the event. The library helped us to prepare. We took newspapers, and laid them across the floor. We then placed large refrigerator cardboard boxes on the newspaper. On a table, we set up paper bowls, an assortment of paintbrushes, and tempera paint.

setting up sneetch event.JPG

We set a fifteen-dollar admission rate for this event to raise money for Dr. Seuss books. When the children arrived, we ushered them to a blanket we had laid on the floor, and everyone sat down. The children’s librarian, Miss Susan, began story time. Before she began to read, Miss Susan handed out green stars to some people. During the story, when the Sneetches took their stars on and off, everyone would switch stars and take turns having stars and being starless. Everyone listened as she read The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss.

misssusanwithsneetch

Miss Susan with her star-bellied Sneetch stuffed animal

misssusanreadingsneetches.JPG

Miss Susan begins to read The Sneetches and Other Stories

listeningtosneetches.JPG

Everyone listens to Miss Susan read The Sneetches and Other Stories

When she had finished reading, we asked the children what they thought the moral of the story was. Their consensus was that it didn’t matter if the Sneetches had stars or not, they were all the same. We discussed how this was actually a larger theme: you should not discriminate against others because of their looks.

 

sneetchesmakeup

After reading and discussing the story, we explained the next portion of the event- building the Sneetch machine. Everyone began to paint the machine.paintingsneetchmachine

We took a smaller box, designated it as our tower, and painted it yellow. We painted the tunnel and main chamber of the machine red. With duct tape, we made streamers to cover the entrance of the tunnel. We made green stars, and while you were going through the machine, you could either put a star on, or take a star off. Once the paint had dried, we cut a large hole at one end of largest box. We placed a slide at the exit, and everyone took turns sliding out of the machine.

willsslidingoutofsneetchmachinekidcomingoutofsneetchmachineWe left our machine at the library for a few weeks, and eventually dismantled the machine before we brought it to the Barnum School, which is where the machine now resides.

About a month after our event at Pequot Library, we purchased Dr. Seuss books with the money we had made from our fundraiser, and headed to the Barnum school with decorating supplies, a large banner,some Haitian-Creole books to show the children, and the new Dr. Seuss books.

creole books

Haitian-Creole Books

We showed the children their new Dr. Seuss books, and we then proceeded to hold our Sneetch-related activities.

emmaandbrooksposingwithseussbooks

Emma and Brooks Morgan pose with the Dr. Seuss books we donated to the Barnum School

We spent the afternoon with three classes of first-graders as they had their library time. We did the same activities with all three groups. First, we would read The Sneetches and Other Stories, and discuss the morals.

emmabrooksreadsneetches

Next, we would read and show the children the Haitian-Creole books. After everyone had a chance to look at the Creole books, the kids got to decorate the Sneetch machine in shifts and write a few words and make drawings on the banner we sending to Haiti. But what they were most excited about by far was getting to go through the Sneetch machine.

childrenlineuptoridemachine

Everyone lines up to ride the Sneetch machine

The kids lined up, eagerly anticipating their turn to go through the machine. We handed everyone out toy money, like the money the Sneetches paid to go through the machines in the book, and they slipped the money into the admissions box and crawled through the tunnel, walked to the exit, and rode down the slide.

makingtunnelatsneetchmachine

Brooks and I (Madeline) making a tunnel as the children take turns sliding out of the machine

After repeating the activities with each class, we packed up our Creole books and rolled the enormous poster with the names, notes, and drawings of each first-grader scrawled inside. The Sneetch machine and has traveled from our local library to the Barnum School’s library. Our poster brimming with the drawings and messages from Connecticut children will be received by children in Haiti.

poster

Kids working on the poster

The Sneetches and Other Stories has made an impact in our community, at the Barnum school, and will soon make an impact in Haiti. Where will reading take you?