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Hart district students donate supplies to Nicaraguan schools

Posted: January 7, 2010 12:35 p.m.
Updated: January 7, 2010 12:21 p.m.

In 2008, Hart district students sent donated school supplies to Nicaragua which were hand-delivered to schools in La Boquita on the Pacific Coast, Mombacho School near Granada, and a school near Esteli in Nicaragua's northern highlands.

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More than 300 pounds of school supplies will be on their way to schools in Nicaragua this month, thanks to students and staff at five Hart District schools and the Hart district office.

Volunteers in the Project Chacocente delegation from Valencia United Methodist Church also will be carrying hundreds of letters from local students to their counterparts in the Latin American nation.

Members of the delegation will each be carrying an extra 50-pound suitcase filled with school supplies, which will be delivered to schools in San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast, Mombacho School near Granada, the Project Chacocente school near Managua, and possibly one additional school north of Nicaragua's capital.

In addition, Hart District schools and staff have collected more than 100 pounds of hotel-sized toiletries which will be donated to Chacocente, which is dedicated to reaching impoverished families living in the Managua dump and relocating them to a rural community near Masaya.

Relocated families are then taught to raise their own food and taught marketable skills with a goal of becoming self-sufficient in the future.

Previous delegations have helped Project Chacocente build their own homes on land that will become theirs after they pass an initial five-year period of participation.

School supplies and letters have come from students and staff at Placerita and Rio Norte junior high schools and Canyon, Valencia and West Ranch high schools. All of the letters were written in Spanish by native Spanish-speakers or students in Spanish foreign language classes, or were translated by volunteers.

Students write about their interests, favorite and least favorite topics in school, and why they like to live in Santa Clarita. Postage-paid envelopes will be provided to the schools in Nicaragua to encourage them to write back to their Santa Clarita pen pals.

The Valencia United Methodist Church delegation will be spending a week at Project Chacocente, with plans to help build a playground for students there. Smaller delegations will visit schools in the other cities before and after the formal delegation's work at Chacocente.

The church also has been soliciting donations of school supplies and sports equipment from its members and youth groups and will be carrying additional donated items destined specifically to the Project Chacocente families.

"The generosity of our local students is absolutely overwhelming," commented Pat Willett, the Hart District's community liaison officer, who coordinated the donation of school supplies. "We love the idea that our students are connecting personally with students in Latin America through their letters and hope we receive a good response from students at the schools we visit."

This is the second time that Hart District students have sent donated school supplies to schools in Nicaragua. In 2008, a local delegation carried donations from La Mesa and Rio Norte junior high schools and Valencia, Saugus and West Ranch high schools.

Those supplies were hand-delivered to schools in La Boquita on the Pacific Coast, Mombacho School near Granada, and a school near Esteli in Nicaragua's northern highlands.

School children in Nicaragua are required to provide their own uniforms and school supplies in public schools. If they cannot afford them, they cannot attend school.

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