ANSON — Over the last couple months, Amanda Pingree’s fourth grade class at Carrabec Community School has collected 71 pairs of shoes, 90 pairs of socks, 24 shorts, 21 shirts, 16 basketballs and four soccer balls.

The items are piled up in the school’s computer room until they can be shipped to the Mission School of Hope in Mbang village in Cameroon as part of a cross-cultural exchange effort. The goal is to get everything to the African nation by Christmas.

“Some people actually do just wish for shoes for Christmas instead of — we wish for electronic stuff like phones and stuff like that,” said 10-year-old Olivia Fortier, of Anson. “It’s a very big difference.”

Parents and students at each of School Administrative District 74’s four schools donated shoes. Shoe company New Balance also contributed new sneakers and the apparel, socks, basketballs and soccer balls.

Georgiana Wright, charitable program specialist of Maine at New Balance, said she was happy to be a part of the students’ project.

“You’ve got to learn, I don’t care what age you are, to give back and help other people,” she said.

With the items, the class plans to send over a stuffed toy moose. The Cameroonian children will then take pictures of their surroundings with the moose in them and email them back to Anson. They will also write journal entries to share.

A Fast Track grant from the Perloff Family Foundation paid for a laptop and generator for the Cameroon school, said Jaime Steward, the district’s technology integrator. The students plan to use the computer software Skype to video chat over the Internet with students in Cameroon.

Steward said it’s a real-world learning experience for the students. They have sparked discussions when told the electricity or Internet is not working in Cameroon or when they see photographs of students without shoes.

“I think it’s just a wonderful learning opportunity for them,” Steward said.

Fortier’s experience extended beyond school when she went to New Balance in Skowhegan recently to pick up the donated items. There, she met Wright and learned how an additional stranger was helping those she will likely never meet.

“She’s a very nice person who does that,” Fortier said about Wright. “She wanted to know if we could go back there and talk more about it to her.”

Wright said it’s children like Fortier who will be the “glue of the world.” She said, “I’m so impressed those children thought of somebody else. That’s huge.”

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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