Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The 207th good thing about Lagos: Fabulous fund-raising by American International School students keeps a charity gift tradition alive!

The American Women's Club here has a Christmas tradition of giving a bag of foodstuffs to the staff members of the charities we support -- a thank you and acknowledgement of their generous efforts throughout the year. My first Christmas here I assisted with this project and last year I was in charge. As we made up our Community Services budget for the AWC this year, the funding for this project was something that we had to cut out, so we weren't sure how or if we would be able to continue this tradition, which was very much appreciated by these workers who give of themselves all year. But contact with the American International School's Student Senate (what they call their high school's student government) led to their generous offer to do the fundraising for us for this project. They gave students a number of giving opportunities on Thanksgiving week. A big component of their efforts was the opportunity for students to pay for the privilege of not wearing their school uniform, buying a "free dress" day. Their uniform is really quite flexible so I wouldn't have thought it an onerous thing, but I guess many really wanted to dress in something other than navy, khaki or red, because the students raised a lot of money in just a few days -- N374,000 -- about $2500! I was astounded and very grateful. That was enough money to cover the cost of the gift bags and also help with the extra funds we needed (along with other private donations received) to keep up our tradition of giving some money to help fund a Christmas party to our charities that serve children. We had just one week to organize this Christmas gift bag project, so it was a whirlwind effort. We had a committee member, who heads up a local foundation and has bulk food buying connections, volunteer to do the shopping and she also offered the use of her office for the assembly efforts. Club members donated ziplock bags for dividing up the bulk goods.
The ghana bags were filled with rice, beans, garri, oil, sugar, salt, tea, oats, semovita, candles, matches, canned milk, sardines, bouillon cubes, tomato paste, bar soap, and a toiletry bag stuffed with airplane and hotel toiletries. In two hours we stuffed 100 bags and the delivery to the charities is almost finished -- at least all the bags I was responsible for getting somewhere are out of my apartment! When I delivered the gift bags to the Braille Book Production Centre, the volunteer manning the desk in the shipping container that serves as their office said their staff (many of whom are visually impaired and have many challenges in their lives) had really been looking forward to getting their gift bags again this year. Many thanks to the American school students for getting us the funds so we didn't have to disappoint them!

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