Caring across continents: FOES students supply a library in Africa

Led by the Forest Oaks Student Council, the school community collected books to send to Mbita Primary School in Swaziland. (Contributed)

Led by the Forest Oaks Student Council, the school community collected books to send to Mbita Primary School in Swaziland. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

CHELSEA—Forest Oaks Elementary School students are making a difference in the lives of children nearly 9,000 miles away. The Forest Oaks Student Council recently participated in the African Library Project, holding a book drive to supply a library for Mbita Primary School in Swaziland, on the Southeastern coast of Africa.

From Feb. 9-13, the school community pitched in and donated gently used books, with a goal of collecting 1,000 books to start the Mbita Primary School’s library.

“We have mostly kids picture books and chapter books,” Forest Oaks fourth grade teacher Mary Ramsey said. “I think (the students) were excited to bring books, knowing kids that didn’t have books were getting books.”

Ramsey and the Student Council are now working to package the books and send them to New Orleans where they will then be sent to Swaziland.

“We have a summary sheet for each box, so (the school) knows what’s coming and what to expect,” Ramsey said.

Helping others is an important responsibility of the Forest Oaks Student Council. Made up of 22 fourth and fifth grade representatives, the group organizes several service projects throughout the school year, including a Pennies for Patients drive in the fall and a canned food drive to benefit Oak Mountain Missions.

“Pennies for Patients raised almost $2,400 in one week,” Ramsey said. “That was exciting.”

Doing service projects, such as organizing and holding the book drive, teaches the students valuable lessons, including responsibility, accountability and helping other, Ramsey explained, adding the students learn “it’s not just about you.”