You're Never Too Young: 9-Year-Old Collects School Supplies for Africa

12/10/12

Growing up in Gig Harbor, Washington, 9-year-old Kylee Sears has always had all the learning materials she could possibly dream of.  But that doesn't mean she doesn't think about children who don't.  "It would be hard to have no school supplies," she says.  "I imagine writing in the dirt with sticks."

Kylee's been hearing stories about Africa from her family's good friend and Children of The Nations (COTN) staff member Jennifer Keltner for years.  Every time Jennifer visits Kylee she has stories about African children from her latest Venture Trip with COTN.  "Some day I want to go to Africa with her," says Kylee.

Kylee has a few more years before she'll be old enough to travel to Africa and serve the children there.   But she doesn't let that stop her from doing everything she can to help them now.  This summer, Kylee kicked off a SmilePack® drive from her front porch.

"I made a list of all the materials you need to put in a bag," she explains, "and I told my family and friends."  Kylee also posted the information on her blog, hoping to get as much exposure as possible.  "We had a box on the front porch where they could drop off their bag and take an empty one," she explains.

The donations came in, slow and steady, as people picked up more bags and spread the word.  "We didn't really know where it was going to take us," Kylee's mom, Shelly, admits.  But people joined in he effort—even strangers.  Kylee's grandfather was in Walmart buying supplies when an employee came up and asked him what he was doing.  After he told her, she came running back with three dollars, saying she wanted to help out.  "It spread," says Shelly.

On November 15, Kylee and her mother hauled forty-eight SmilePacks to one of COTN's warehouses to be loaded into a shipping container headed for Sierra Leone. In the warehouse, Kylee thought about the journey her carefully-sorted packs would make, and the children who would receive them in Sierra Leone.  "I hope that they'll look back on the day they got them, and remember it," she says.  "They'll probably be really happy."

Shelly, who is a teacher by profession, says collecting SmilePacks was a great learning experience for Kylee.  "It led us to many conversations about different places around the world," she says.  Kylee says she learned a lot too.  "I learned that people in Africa might not have as much as we do," she says.  "I want them to have as much as they can so they can learn and be healthy."

Collecting school supplies for children in Africa is easy!  Organize a SmilePack drive today!