Kids Helping Kids
A Special K.I.N.D. of Desk
How My Alabama Scout Pack Improved Education for Children in Africa
By Alexander Mathis
Three years ago, my assistant scoutmaster, Ms. Mozella Pack, inspired me and 13 fellow Cub Scouts to do something special. Ms. Pack had learned from an MSNBC news program, “The Last Word,” that millions of children throughout Africa struggle to learn while sitting on the floor or ground outdoors because they have no desks. The show’s host, Lawrence O’Donnell, was a long-time supporter of the K.I.N.D. Fund. That is a UNICEF program that sends desks to schools that need them in African countries. (The letters stand for Kids in Need of Desks.) Getting desks would make it easier for students to read, write, and concentrate.
Based on Ms. Pack’s suggestion, we decided make the K.I.N.D. Fund our service project. We then spent a year doing different fundraising activities, including car washes, bake sales, spaghetti dinners, and a fashion show. All of our efforts were aimed at raising money for those desks for kids in the African country of Malawi.
Our pack received overwhelming support from our sponsor, the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. The church encouraged us to be “difference makers” — to make a significant impact in the world. And guess what? We ended up raising more than $18,000— more than any other group has raised for K.I.N.D.!
To complete this project, I had to develop leadership and planning skills, and learn how to work as part of a team towards a common goal. In the end, I got the good feeling of knowing that what I did in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, made a difference in the life of someone halfway around the world. And although it was a lot of hard work, it was really fun.
Alexander Mathis is 13 years old and attends St. Rose Academy in Birmingham. He is a 2016 recipient of a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.