As many as 1,400 impoverished or underprivileged children get a chance to go to school each year, thanks to Wichitan Laurel King.
For the past 10 years, the 57-year-old has spearheaded the creation of school kits at Wichita’s First Mennonite Brethren Church on behalf of Mennonite Central Committee, a global relief organization.
Each drawstring bag – handsewn by King and her recruits – contains four notebooks, eight pencils, a ruler, an eraser and a package of colored pencils.
The simple items usually cost a few American dollars.
But, she said, they can mean a “step up out of poverty” for young minds in third-world countries and refugees.
“When you take a kid out of their home, everything is disrupted,” said King, a Via Christi employee. “But when you can start school, everything is comfortable again.”
“It’s very needed and appreciated.”
When finished, King’s kits will be collected with others at Mennonite Central Committee headquarters in Pennsylvania then delivered to countries such as Nicaragua or Haiti or Jordan.
Children are awaiting them there.
At home, she says her goal is to teach her fellow church members and others about generosity.
“Serve. That’s what God wants us to do,” she said.
“Even at a young age, you are capable of helping someone you don’t know with this school kit.”