(April 23, 2007) — The demands of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan earthquake, and more recent events including floods in Jakarta, Indonesia, and spring storms and flooding in the US are taking a toll on inventories of one of the staples of relief aid-emergency kits, reported Church World Service (CWS) in a release today. The drain is prompting the international humanitarian agency to issue a call specifically for contributions of children’s school kits.
The school kits are colorful tote bags holding basic school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, blunt scissors, crayons, and rulers, and are contributed by individuals and groups around the US, then shipped in quantity by CWS to schoolchildren in need domestically and worldwide. The shipments are processed at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., by Service Ministries, a program of the Church of the Brethren General Board.
Last year, CWS distributed more than 77,800 school kits in ten countries and eleven states across the US, and more than 267,000 different kinds of relief kits in all last year. But the agency’s Emergency Response Program associate director Linda Reed Brown said, “World needs have been extreme the past couple of years consuming a great deal of our inventory. Some weeks ago, we could have shipped 300 school kits to tornado-ravaged Dumas, Ark., but the low reserve wouldn’t allow us to do so.”
While the kits are a relatively small part of the emergency relief, sustainable development, and refugee services that CWS provides worldwide, the small packages are a boon to people caught in the throes of disaster. Practical kit gifts meant a lot to the self esteem of children affected by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, for example. Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CWS sent $110,000 in school kits to badly damaged schools in Louisiana and Mississippi. At Forked Island-E. Broussard School in Abbeville, La., principal Chris St. Romain said that even five months after Katrina hit, colorful bags filled with school supplies for his students–more than half of whom were qualifying for free lunches even before the hurricane–were “a practical and welcome treat. The school kits from Church World Service meant a lot to our kids’ sense of self-esteem,” he said.
Each Church World Service school kit is a $13 value, and the agency asks that contributors separately send $2 per kit for processing and shipping. Individuals and groups may find specific contents, packaging, and shipping instructions for the kits at www.churchworldservice.org/kits/school-kits.html. Find out about possible CWS kit drop-off locations and collection schedule deadlines in your by calling 888-297-2767.