THS Engineering Academy receives donations, learns microfinance

The Thompson High School Engineering Academy received donations to their program and learned about microfinance on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Ron Howard of the Shelby County Retired Senior and Volunteer Program donated tools and supplies for use in the classroom.

“This is a variety of things that are useful in the classroom,” said teacher Brian Copes. “He’s got tape measurers, screwdrivers, and a whole host of things.”

Howard said he gathered the supplies through a sale at Harbor Freight Tools in Pelham.

“You can buy anything, and you get something free with any purchase,” Howard said. “Everything here is one of the free things that we would get.”

Students were able to learn abut microfinance through an organization known as Kiva, which aims to alleviate poverty through lending small amounts of money to underprivileged people on their website.

Howard said Kiva donated $500 the THS Engineering Academy, to allow 20 students to lend $25 to an individual of their choosing.

Howard cited the old saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime,” when explaining Kiva to students.

“What if the man already knows how to fish, but he doesn’t have a net or a boat?” Howard said. “What we do is make microloans to underserved entrepreneurs all over the world. Microfinance isn’t going to cure all of the ills of the world, but it is one of the tools we can use to help.”

According to Howard, Kiva vets potential recipients to ensure there are no scams and boasts a 98.89 percent return rate.

Copes said learning about microfinance gives students a new way to help people in underdeveloped countries.

“A lot of what I try to teach in my classroom is how to use their time and talents to help others,” Copes said. “Students are learning that, for a very small amount of money, they can effectively help people around the world.”

Copes expressed his gratitude to Howard for everything he has done for the THS Engineering Academy.

“It’s very kind of him to come in and help the students,” Copes said.