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7 December 2006

JSU Helping Needy Children in Guatemala

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Jacksonville State University students are doing their part to make sure needy children in Guatemala will have a bright Christmas.

The school’s History Club and Phi Alpha Theta honor society are again sponsoring their annual drive to collect Christmas shoeboxes filled with goodies.

“Five years ago, I thought this might be a good project for us,” said Dr. George Lauderbaugh, who is the faculty advisor of Phi Alpha Theta. “The first year we collected $50. Last year, we had 335 boxes and $700 in cash. Some people would rather give cash than fix a shoe box so we use the cash to help defray the shipping expenses.”

Lauderbaugh said Homer Wilson, a retired NASA engineer who lives in Huntsville, started the shoebox project in 1995. For many years, Wilson would drive the shoeboxes to Guatemala himself. Now, his age (80) and health force him to ship the packages to Miami and then on to Guatemala. He sent more than 10,000 boxes last year.

“All he cares about is helping the children,” Lauderbaugh said.

The project continues to grow in Calhoun County with many other campus and community organizations joining in as well as some churches.

“I always worry that we’re not going to get any boxes, and then all of a sudden they start pouring in,” Lauderbaugh said. The goal is to surpass last year’s 335 boxes.

Anyone who would like to participate in the project may do so by putting together a box full of toys, school supplies or hygiene products.

Here’s a list of acceptable toys: Small cars, balls, dolls, jacks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, small Etch-A-Sketch, slinky, etc.

Here’s a list of acceptable school supplies: Pens, pencils and sharpeners, stamps and ink pad sets, solar calculators, colored pencils, chalk, crayons, coloring books, writing pads, etc.

Hygiene products on the acceptable list include: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, combs, washcloths, etc.

Also included on the list are hard candy, lollipops, mints, gum, non-breakable sunglasses, ball caps, socks, underwear, costume jewelry, hair clips and small picture books.

No used items are allowed. Toy guns, knives or other toy weapons are also prohibited. Perishable foods, liquids such as shampoo, medicines of any kind and any breakable item (china and glass) are not allowed.

Boxes should be wrapped in decorative paper. However, the top and bottom must be wrapped separately so that customs agents at the border can open the box if they desire.

Boxes should be marked with the appropriate sex and age of the child you would like to have your gift box. The categories are boys (5-9, 10-13, 14-16) and girls (5-9, 10-13 and 14-16).

Boxes should be delivered to the History Department, Room 309 Stone Center at Jax State and will be collected until Dec. 15.

The shoebox project is a part of the Alabama-Guatemala Partners, which is part of the Partners of the Americas, a group that promotes relationships between states and Central American countries.

“People-to-people contact can often do more than government-to-government contact,” Lauderbaugh said.

Though the shoebox program is an important program through the Partners of the Americas organization, it is not the only thing they do. Since 1967, Alabama has partnered with Guatemala to promote communication between the two peoples. “This is just one of the programs,” Lauderbaugh said.

See story at The Jacksonville News's website: .

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