In October 2014, Rotary members from District 5950 came together and were awarded a matching grant to purchase school supplies for students in Guatemala who are affiliated with Common Hope. The District 5950 clubs who participated in the project included Buffalo, Crystal-New Hope-Robbinsdale, Edina Noon, Minneapolis City of Lakes, Minneapolis South, Minneapolis Uptown, St. Louis Park Sunrise, and Rogers. Additionally, the Blaine-Ham Lake and Coon Rapids Rotary clubs, which are part of District 5960, helped fund the shipment of the container. Members from all of these clubs and Rotary Youth Exchange Students volunteered at the Common Hope office to help pack, sort, and count supplies in October and November.

Students used supplies purchased with the District 5950 matching grant to create trains of their own.

Then, in late February, Rotary members from Buffalo, Wayzata, and Blaine/Ham Lake had the chance to visit a school in San Rafael el Arado, Guatemala. There, they participated in a reading activity with students who directly benefited from the District 5950 and 5960 clubs.  It was a story about trains, which was from one of the books sourced by Rotary.  The story was followed by a fun craft activity that related to the story in the book, which is a multisensory method of engaging children in reading and comprehension. Using school supplies they received in January, the students and Rotary members worked together and built miniature-sized trains out of cardboard tubes and construction paper. Rotary member Julie Gotham commented saying, “It was so fun to be silly and play with the kids, yet also see how the gifts from our clubs were making such a difference.” Later, after their artwork was finished, teachers loaded kids into a cardboard train which the teachers and students had constructed in conjunction with an earlier reading activity.  Rotary members provided the stop, wait, and go commands with their ‘stoplights’, and eventually joined the kids’ train themselves.

Thank you once again to the clubs in District 5950 for your generous contributions to our 2014 school supply drive, and thanks to our friends in District 5960 for helping us fund the shipment of the container of supplies to Guatemala. On behalf of all of the students who have full backpacks this year, MUCHAS GRACIAS!