About a month ago, I was contacted through my Teaching to Give Facebook Page by a minister named John in Kenya. John runs the Fresh Start Academy, which is a school with approximately 300 children in Eldoret, Kenya. Many (or maybe even all) of the children come from very poor backgrounds. Here are some of the children at the school…
John saw what we were doing and asked if we could help by providing toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children at his school. Without hesitating (and without giving any thought to the cost involved), I said yes.
I immediately put out the word to friends and told anyone I met who I thought might be interested in what we were doing. The support for this project has been simply overwhelming. One of the most heartwarming things about this project has been to see how many people – some who I barely know at all – opened up their hearts and their wallets to help. The very first day I posted about this project, a friend showed up with her children and a big gift bag full of toothbrushes and toothpaste. When Abby and I went to her dentist appointment, we told them about the project and asked if they had anything to contribute. They gave us two boxes of toothpaste and a giant bag of toothbrushes to send. (Thanks G Family Dentistry!) I mentioned the project to another friend who is a pediatric dentist in Frisco, and she graciously donated several more boxes of toothbrushes and toothpaste. (Thanks Frisco Dentistry for Kids!)
The largest and most surprising donation came from someone who I simply told about the project one day. I am an attorney and was at the courthouse for a hearing. Six attorneys were supposed to attend, but only a couple of us were actually there. So, I sat next to opposing counsel for about an hour and chatted while we waited to see if the others would show up. Somehow, our conversation steered itself to this project. The next thing I knew, that attorney had 250 toothbrushes and 144 boxes of toothpaste sent to my office! I am so overwhelmed by her generosity! Look at all the toothbrushes and toothpaste we collected….
When I first started looking in to shipping donations to Kenya, I went to the USPS website. It told me I could ship a “large” flat rate box to Kenya for $60. Great. That was better than I thought. So, I hopped over to the post office to pick up a few boxes. Unfortunately, “large” flat rate boxes are anything but large! They’re actually quite small. I decided to try packing all the toothbrushes and toothpaste into two larger boxes to see if it would be a cheaper option.
WRONG! Thankfully, we live in a time when you can figure out your shipping costs online. So, I measured and weighed the boxes to figure out just how much it would cost to ship. (I didn’t want to have a heart attack at the post office when they told me the cost!) First, I tried UPS. Total cost to ship ONE of these boxes? $845! Sheesh! Next stop, the post office. Total cost to ship both costs $440. Ouch. So, back to the drawing board I went. It turns out toothpaste is extremely heavy, so I took out all the toothpaste and loaded that into flat rate boxes. I put all the toothbrushes into a big box, since they’re light. Thankfully, it brought the total down significantly.
Total cost to ship? $275. This morning, I took all of the boxes to the post office, filled out the custom forms, and sent them off to Kenya. I certainly did my part today to keep the USPS in business!
It really makes me sad how expensive it is to ship things over there. Everyone has such big hearts and I know we could get an endless supply of donations for these kiddos, but shipping the items over there is pretty cost prohibitive.
I put out a call to friends for donations to help with shipping costs, and again, my heart melted seeing the generosity of so many. Friends I haven’t seen or spoken to in years sent me checks. One of the most amazing things about all of our projects has been watching the generosity of others. It rarely comes from those you would expect it to come from. You just never know who is going to be touched by a particular cause! All of the wonderful donations (both in toothbrushes and toothpaste and in money to cover shipping charges) have been such a great reminder to me of the goodness in people.
Abby and I are continuing to collect items for Kenya. We plan to send school supplies (and a few other miscellaneous items) at the end of August. (John told me that the school currently has one pencil for every two students.) We are also collecting used shoes to send before Christmas. (John said that many of the students walk to school barefoot.) At least two of my friends are diligently collecting shoes, and I think we are up to about 100 total collected between the three of us. My goal is to send over 300 pairs of shoes. Unfortunately, the cost of shipping 300 pairs of shoes is going to be astronomical. It may easily cost $1,000 or more to ship them. For now, I am trying not to worry about that. Generous givers came through for the first round of shipping, and I am very hopeful that the same will happy for the second and third rounds. If you are interested in contributing to the shipping costs, please visit our donation site.