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Local students seek help shipping African school supplies

Cameron, Nate and Evan Lamprey proudly display the 150 pouches they and their classmates at Sant Bani School made and filled with basic school supplies for students of Chinaa High School in Zimbabwe, Africa. Now the ambitious young men who began the project are hoping they can receive a little more assistance from the community in raising $400 to ship the packages overseas. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 02, 2012
SANBORNTON — The project is complete, but shipping costs are now preventing three boys from Sanbornton from reaching their goal to help students in Africa with basic supplies for their education.

In August of 2011, Cameron, Nate and Evan Lamprey began a fundraising effort to benefit the Chinaa High School of Zimbabwe, Africa after hearing a letter written by fellow Sanbornton resident Lindley Kinerk.

Kinerk, who has been teaching math in the remote village for more than a year now, had written to the boys' grandmother, Marlene Witham, about the hardships the students face each day. There are only a few computers to share for research on outdated computer programs, and no Internet service. Pencils are scarce, and basic supplies students here in the United States take for granted are hard to find in their village. Most just do without.

A change jar set out at their father's automotive repair business got the ball rolling to raise money for supplies — then the Lamprey boys and their mother carried the project over to their classmates at Sant Bani School. There, they worked hard to involve one school in assisting another.

"We had change jars set out, bake sales, anything we could do to raise money," said Bethany Lamprey.

Donations from the community also helped raise enough funds to shop for Chinaa High School, and the Lamprey family began accumulating protractors, compasses, pens, pencils and erasers for the 150 students.

"I think the shopping was the hardest part," said second grader Evan Lamprey.

The students would also need a means to store and carry the items on their long walk to school each day, so Bethany Lamprey and her mom, Marlene Witham, began to brainstorm.

"My mom had a lot of really nice material donated to her, so we decided to sew pouches for the kids to keep their supplies in," she said.

Sant Bani School stepped up to the plate to assist once more, and allowed Lamprey, Witham and two teachers to run an Art Block class where the students helped to cut, pin and sew the pouches.

"We set it up like an assembly line," said Lamprey. "The first week was a little slow as the kids got the hang of sewing, but then we got more efficient and gained momentum."

Halfway through the project, Kinerk came home for a Christmas vacation and was able to visit Sant Bani School to see all the work being done for her overseas students. She brought pictures of Chinaa High School and answered questions the Sant Bani students had about the boys and girls she teaches.

"They got to hear first hand what their conditions are, and we found out they have to sharpen their pencil with a knife, so we added pencil sharpens to the list," said Lamprey.

Spurred on by Kinerk's visit, there were soon more than 150 pouches sewn and filled with the basic supplies the African students are lacking. They all gathered to pose for a photo to send with their gifts and hope to establish a connection with Kinerk's overseas students. In fact, Lamprey said, the Sant Bani students became so excited about the project that they wished they could send more.

Then came the bad news. The boys and their mom looked into shipping methods, and found out it will cost nearly $400 to ship the six 20-pound, flat rate boxes through the U.S. Post Office, which was the cheapest price they could find.

"We're set and ready to go, but we don't have nearly enough money to send it all to Africa. We never imagined it would cost so much," Lamprey said.

Just this past week, the Missions Committee of the First United Methodist Church in Laconia/Gilford heard about their dilemma and made a generous contribution, Witham said, but there is still a long way to go before the boxes can be en route to Africa.

Lamprey has set up an open account at Northway Bank for contributions and people can also drop by Jameson's Tune-Ups Plus, behind Pizza Hut on Route 3 in Tilton, where the boys once again set out a jar to collect donations for the postage.

"This has really been fun, and we all learned a lot. I just wish we could be there to see their faces when the packages do finally arrive," Lamprey said.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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