Teen Council Projects

Under Way: Collecting Used Items for Rural Jamaican Kids

Report by Kimi and Ivan Wei

At our last meeting on September 14, 2008, Teen Council members unanimously voted to help Mr. Harold Burnett of Teaneck who this summer began to gather, with assistance from the Wei Family, gently used items for children affiliated with Class House on the Dry Harbor Mountain in Jamaica, a youth enrichment center. Mr. Burnett grew up in the Alexandria District in which Class House is located, and he came to tell us about the life of children there. It has not changed very much since he was a boy. He asked TC members for help with the collection effort now under way to make their lives easier.

There are 21 kids in the district who take advantage of classes and activities in the Class House building run by the Reverend Fitzroy Thomas. One man who grew up in Alexandria returned to the community after many years absence and began planning to expand the building, but passed away suddenly. In their father's memory, his children finished up some of the work he had begun, the most useful of which was the installation of a bathroom facility. There are many other people from the district whom Mr. Burnett believes can be enticed to get involved and help. If they see how much of a difference collective, small individual efforts can make in the lives of the district's children over time it will motivate them to step up to the plate.

Class House children have few possessions to call their own. Many of them grow to adulthood without ever owning a small toy car or a doll. Backpacks are largely unknown to school children and even shoes are scarce. Mr. Burnett would like to lighten the lives of these children whose need for small material comforts is great. He has begun to reach out to other Jamaicans living in this region for help with the cost of shipping collected items to Jamaica, and he is prepared to foot much of that expense out of his own pocket.

Ivan shares his tip for collecting items with minimum effort

My family has collected 10 bags for Harold in the past 6 weeks by cleaning out our closets and telling friends we're making this collection. Many of our friends have made gifts of great items.

To give you some ideas of items the Class House kids can use, here is a list we put together during an idea exchange session with Mr. Burnett over the summer. Send in your own ideas and we'll add them to the list! Mr. Burnett told us, as an example, about the gift of a little tambourine his sister received as a girl, and how she treasured it for years. Remember, collected items should be in good condition but don't need to be flawless. Anything that might not justify the expense of shipping overseas will be passed along to individuals in Bergen and Passaic counties who can make use of them.

When you have a collection of items, big or small, send an email or phone Kimi Wei (Ivan's mom) at 201-475-1854, and we'll make arrangements for them to be picked up.

Happy Hunting . . .

Collection Suggestions

  • Books
  • Summer weight clothing
  • Shoes, sandals
  • Toys
  • Balls
  • Musical instruments
  • Any kind of learning tools - books, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.
  • Backpacks
  • Crayons, coloring books, markers
  • Flutes and any kind of instrument
  • Used electronic equipment
  • Old cameras
  • PS1 with a bunch of games
  • Seeds for planting
  • CD players and Walkman units, tape recorders
  • Gently used items in excellent condition
  • Some of the kids are working kids and can use sneakers, hard boots
  • Baseball caps
  • Jeans, t-shirts, cargo-type shorts
  • Old computers
  • Old ipods
  • Used cellphones that take SIM chips
  • First aid materials
  • Tools