What started off as a simple class project in third grade, turned into a community service initiative that will connect Unadilla Valley Central School with Papua New Guinea.
A group of third grade students are collecting donated books and will provide them later this month to Hope Worldwide, a non-profit charitable organization that directly distributes books to Papua New Guinea.
The inspiration comes from the book “My Librarian is a Camel,” which explores how children around the world get books. Third grade students read the book and the three classes broke down into smaller groups to study the countries featured within the book in more detail.
A group working with teacher Wendy Madden chose Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific country that shares half of the Island of New Guinea. Much of the country consists of thick jungle and remote hamlets with no electricity. Hope Worldwide volunteers who bring the books into the hamlets have to walk up to four hours to deliver the books they carry on their shoulders in boxes.
One of the third grade students, Kirsten Pepper, said she thought there might be a way to help by collecting books. Because English is an official language of Papua New Guinea, they could use books donated from Unadilla Valley community.
And that’s how the book drive was launched.
Pepper and her fellow students designed posters promoting the drive that are placed around the school and have so far collected scores of books.
There is one week left in the drive and the books will be donated to Hope Worldwide, which is based in Pennsylvania, according to Madden.
“We’re going to try and send them out before the Christmas break,” Madden said.
On Thursday, the third-graders shared what they knew about Papua New Guinea and pointed the country out on a globe. This included facts like they don’t have video games or other electronics; the “peace bird” is on the country’s national flag; and the Amia tribe gives out sugar cane as gifts to the Hope Worldwide volunteers.
The students said it felt great to be able to help out other children.