University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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UW-Eau Claire Geography Club
Coordinates School Kits for Iraq

 MAILED:  Oct. 30, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Geography Club will collect and assemble school kits for children in Iraq and several other countries.

Beginning the week of Nov. 3, the Geography Club will collect basic school supplies for children around the world. The kits will be sent primarily to Iraq, but could also be sent to children in such places as Angola, Afghanistan, Albania, North Korea, the West Bank and poorly funded schools in North America. Club members will collect kits through Dec. 13, the last day of fall semester classes.

The Geography Club is coordinating their relief efforts with the Mennonite Central Committee in Goshen, Ind.

“School kits are given primarily to refugee and displaced children in an effort to add some normalcy to disrupted lives,” said Dr. Paul Kaldjian, Geography Club co-adviser. “School kits are MCC’s most requested item. In 2002, MCC sent over 100,000 school kits around the world. More than 440,000 have been shipped to 28 countries in the last eight years. More than 40,000 school kits have been shipped to Iraq but the MCC has requests for another 14,000 kits.”

Members of the campus and greater Eau Claire communities are encouraged to donate entire kits, but individual school supply items will be accepted, Kaldjian said.
Items included in school kits are:

Donated items can be dropped off any time outside of Room 266 in Phillips Science Hall. Kits should be delivered in 11-by-16 fabric double-drawstring bags. The fabric should not have religious or political motifs. Kits also can be delivered in sealed plastic bags.

For more information about the kits, see MCC's Web site. For information about making fabric bags, see MCCkits or MCCkits2.

During mid-day on Nov. 4 and 5, Geography Club members will be in the East Lobby of the Davies Center to answer questions and promote the project.

This is the Geography Club’s second service project with ties to Iraq. During the spring 2003 semester, it coordinated a drive to collect relief kits for Iraqi civilians displaced by war, dictatorship and sanctions.

“With donations and support from the wider UW-Eau Claire community — from individual students and staff, to campus organizations such as the Progressive Student Association to area public schools and Girl Scouts — the Geography Club sent 95 complete kits of basic hygiene supplies,” Kaldjian said. “We also sent hundreds of bars of soap, toothbrushes, toothpastes and bottles of shampoo to be used in future kits, and more than $300 to help with relief kit delivery costs.”

In May 2003, the relief kits were delivered to the MCC in Indiana, Kaldjian said. UW-Eau Claire’s relief kits were among the more than 60,500 kits shipped to Iraq. The kits are distributed in Iraq by MCC partner agencies such as CARE and the Danish Refugee Council.

“As simple as their contents are, the kits are precious to people with few resources,” Kaldjian said. “It is reported that for the ordinary Iraqi to purchase the contents, the relief kit would require nearly a month’s wages, if work were at all available. Even the bucket itself that the kit comes in is used for carrying water, storing grain, pickling vegetables or as furniture.”

Because people in the Chippewa Valley were so generous with their donations last spring, the Geography Club also was able to help a local program, Kaldjian said. Surplus boxes of personal products that could not be used for the relief kits were donated to Beacon House, a short-term housing facility for homeless families in Eau Claire, he said.

For more information about the Geography Club’s projects, contact Geography Club Vice President Renee Rollman at rollarm@uwec.edu or Geography Club Co-Adviser Dr. Paul Kaldjian at kaldjian@uwec.edu.

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JB


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Updated: October 30, 2003