Illinois church collects 63,000 books for MOHI schools
First-grade teacher Betsy Monke was one of several teachers on the team of 97 people from West Side Christian Church, Springfield, Illinois, who visited Missions of Hope (MOHI), in Nairobi, Kenya, this summer. After spending three days in a second-grade MOHI classroom, she said to the teacher, “When we come back, what can we bring? What is it that you most need in your classroom?”
The teacher grabbed Betsy by the shoulders, looked her in the eye and said, “Books! Books! Please bring us books!”
This was the start of an incredible adventure at West Side Church.
In Kenya, 90 percent of children live in households with zero to 10 books, while 94 percent live in households with NO children’s books. These facts were sadly evident to the West Side team during their VBS efforts in Bondeni.
“The situation in the Kenya schools was very different from my classroom,” said teacher Karla Ealey. “I have hundreds of books I can use to enhance our curriculum. In Kenya, the books aren’t there. I can’t imagine teaching first-graders to read without books to put in front of them.”
“The teachers on this trip really connected with the teachers in Bondeni,” said West Side’s Director of Ministries Melissa Sandel. “They realized we often take books in our homes and in our American classrooms for granted.
“When our church began a series on vision and generosity, the idea of creating libraries for people we love in Kenya seemed an obvious fit, because it’s a way everyone can participate,” she added. “The book drive made it possible for all of us to be part of something that God can use to change the world!”
Books and more books
A team of church staff and Kenya trip participants put together a 12-hour marathon book drive on October 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. About 100 volunteers facilitated the project, but thousands collected and donated the books.
The team set a goal of collecting 50,000 books, but by the end of the day they had exceeded their wildest dreams with a total of 63,711 books!
“It’s our hope that if we put these books in the kids’ hands, instead of in boxes in our basements, it will change their lives,” said Karla Ealey.
“West Side was humbled, enthusiastic and driven to complete this project,” said Melissa Sandel. “It’s remarkable what can be accomplished in a single day when the Church is healthy and working right!”
Watch the video below to see the people of West Side in action on “Book Drive for MOHI” day!