More than 150 children — including Debby — received more than a backpack at a birthday party for kids in Zambia. Inside they discovered an insect-repelling blanket, hygiene supplies, washcloths, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and school supplies, including crayons, pens, pencils, a pencil sharpener, and an eraser.
“I’ve never had anything like this before,” says Kenser, who used to carry his books to school in a plastic bag. On rainy days, they’d get soaked. But there was more. Tucked inside the backpack the third-grader received was an uplifting note from a couple in Orange County, California. The care letter had traveled nearly 10,000 miles to get to Kenser.
How did that happen?
It started when the couple attended a World Vision kit event in Orange County — one of nearly 300 such events that take place each year across the country. At these events, participants assemble kits with school or hygiene supplies and write a care letter of encouragement to the person who will receive it — in this case, Kenser, Debby, and their friends. Assembling kits is a great way for a church or a group to reach out to a hurting world in a meaningful way. Best of all, it’s something families can do together.
Here’s how it happened:
1. Someone from a church organization contacted World Vision by emailing [email protected] or calling 1.800.478.5481.
2. Next, they chose Promise Packs from several types of World Vision kits:
- Promise Packs — backpacks filled with school supplies and hygiene items for kids overseas
- SchoolTools — backpacks filled with school supplies for kids in the U.S.
- Hygiene kits — hygiene supplies for families in the U.S.
- International hygiene kits — hygiene supplies sent overseas
- Women’s hope kits — hygiene products packed in a Thirty-One Gifts cosmetic tote for women survivors of poverty or abuse in the U.S.
3. A World Vision event specialist explained how to host their event and confirmed the supplies order.
4. On the day of the event, a group of volunteers set up long tables with all the supplies needed to assemble the Promise Packs. Participants, in the fashion of an assembly line, placed one of each item into the kit. At the end of the line, they wrote a care letter of encouragement for the person who would receive it.
5. The kits were shipped to World Vision’s 40,000-square foot warehouse outside Pittsburgh.
6. A cadre of volunteers carefully added other supplies to the kits, such as clothing and pharmaceuticals donated by generous corporate partners.
7. The shipment, including the backpack from Orange County, was loaded onto a boat in Baltimore to make the long journey to the port at Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
8. The backpacks and other supplies were trucked from the port in Tanzania more than 1,200 miles southwest to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, where, project manager Fred Mazumba received the kits at the World Vision warehouse in Lusaka.
9. Fred and his staff loaded the backpacks onto trucks and drove them 175 miles south to World Vision’s office in Choma.
10. World Vision staff loaded up the kits and crowded into vehicles or rode motorcycles to navigate the rough roads leading to the birthday party in Moyo.
11. Along with his friends, Kenser opened his backpack and marveled at the supplies and the special greeting from Orange County — a care letter letting Kenser know it had been packed just for him.
The world became a little smaller — and a lot more joyful.