By Alex B. Leeman
As natural disasters and international conflict ravage countries around the world, International Voice for Youth is spearheading a project to give less-fortunate children a chance at education.
Thousands of youth across the United States are currently involved in preparing education kits for shipment to Africa, India and other Third World countries.
About 350 youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently contributed over 1,000 education kits to the cause as a part of a tri-stake youth conference in Folsom, California.
“This is a natural youth project,” said Brian Matthews, a counselor in the Fair Oaks California Stake Mission Presidency.
Matthews, along with Geri Beck, a counselor in the Fair Oaks Stake Young Women”s Presidency, spearheaded the education kits project for the youth conference with the goal to give the youth a chance to serve and remind them how blessed they are to have the opportunity to gain an education in America.
Matthews and Beck said they were thrilled at the way the youth received the project.
Angelika Spaeth, 17, a member of the Fair Oaks Stake, said the project reminded her to be thankful for her blessings.
“I feel guilty because I get to go to school, and I hate it. I don”t realize that having clean schools and teachers who are willing to teach us, and having supplies is such a blessing,” said Spaeth. “I really want to help kids that don”t have that.”
The education kits contain simple supplies such as paper, pencils, and erasers. In addition, they also contain a small chalkboard and chalk.
The kits also each contain a personal note written by the youth involved in the service project.
Kim Samples, 17, a member of the Fair Oaks Stake, was preparing notes to be included in the kits.
“I”ve been writing letters telling them that God loves them and that we love them,” said Samples.
“I love this. I think it”s a wonderful idea. I wish that there were more programs like this, not just in the Church, but community programs that do this,” she said.
Joe LeBaron, who performed for the youth conference as a member of BYU”s Vocal Point, said he was excited to work with the youth on the service project.
LeBaron said the youth were so eager to serve that the leaders of the conference had to actually tell them to slow down so they wouldn”t finish too early.
The kits prepared at the youth conference were distributed by Latter-day Saint Charities in India this week.
The Church of Jesus Christ is one of many organizations helping International Voice for Youth ship and distribute the education kits around the world.
According to Sarah Jacobsen, the co-director of humanitarian projects for International Voice for Youth, the education kits project has several goals.
Jacobsen said the first goal of the project is to help less-fortunate children in countries around the world. She hopes first and foremost that the project will encourage the children to pursue education.
Jacobsen also said she hopes the project will benefit the youth that are donating their time to the project.
International Voice for Youth is a nondenominational organization, and a branch of United Families International. The organization is focused on preserving family values and being an advocate for youth throughout the world.