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East Texas girl collects school supplies for Guatemalan children

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Oct. 6, 2012 at 10 p.m.


An East Texas girl is doing what she can to make life a little easier for children in Guatemala.

Connelly Cowan, 8, has been collecting supplies for Guatemalan schools for the past month. She brought the supplies to Refuge International on Friday; the nonprofit organization will get them transported to remote villages in eastern Guatemala.

"Our church does a medical mission trip down there every summer, and the people who go come back and tell us how the kids there don't have many of the things we take for granted here in America," Connelly said. "School was about to start, so I thought it would be nice to try to collect supplies for the kids in Guatemala."

Connelly's efforts led to several large boxes of school supplies, including more than 1,000 pencils and dozens of packages of paper, crayons and pens, as well as hundreds of spiral notebooks and plastic school supply boxes.

Deborah Bell with Refugee International said that she was thrilled to see American children taking an interest in their counterparts in Guatemala.

"This not only helps the kids in Guatemala, it's good for children here in America to realize that what they consider normal isn't the way people live in much of the rest of the world," Bell said.

The supplies will be sent to remote locations that can be reached only by boat, not via land, Bell said.

"Guatemala and Nicaragua have the lowest literacy rates in Latin America, so anything we can do to help them improve their education is important," Bell said.

Connelly said her friends and fellow church members were very supportive of the project and helped her collect more than she thought might be possible.

"I know there are other things that I could have collected for them, like clothes or food, but since school was starting when I got the idea, school supplies just seemed like the best thing to me," Connelly said.

Connelly is the daughter of Kelly and Collin Cowan and is a member of First Baptist Church of Mount Pleasant.

"I've never actually been to Guatemala yet, but I hope to go on one of the church missions someday," she said. 

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