As published in District 22 Retired Teachers of Ontario newsletter, April 13, 2013.
by Sally Jo Martin
“Hasa”, “Chakka” - How many ways can you say “Smile”? Hoping to send photographs of smiling children to donors of the Toronto based charity Sleeping
Children Around the World (SCAW) it was important for me to learn these translations.
Since retiring in 1999 from the TDSB after 34 years of teaching, I have been fortunate to join 6 SCAW distribution teams in India, The Philippines, Uganda and Bangladesh.
The goal of the charity is to provide “the comfort of a good night’s sleep” to children in developing countries by distributing bedding, mosquito nets, clothing and school supplies in a parcel known as a “bedkit”.
Begun in 1970 by Murray and Margaret Dryden, parents of NHL stars Dave and Ken and daughter Judy, Sleeping Children Around the World has so far provided 1,230,330 bedkits to children in 34 countries. Each year another 72,000 kits are distributed by SCAW volunteers.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Donors purchase a kit for $35, receive a tax receipt and a photo of the sponsored child. Many donations are gifts to friends or relatives who then receive the photo. Christmas, Hannakah, birthday, retirement and “in memoriam” gifts are popular.
What makes Sleeping Children Around the World unique? It truly is “the 100% charity” since all administrative costs are covered by a legacy fund created by Murray and Margaret. Volunteers process all donations in the family’s Etobicoke home which was donated to the charity and travellers pay all their own expenses. Overseas volunteers from organizations such as Rotary and Kiwanis source all items locally, often from cottage industries, which encourages the local economy. These groups choose the recipients with help from local schools and social agencies. The children are 6 - 12 years old, attending classes and have at least one parent to ensure that the bedkit contents are used well.
The role of the travelling volunteer is to ensure that all recipients meet the guidelines of the charity. They take photographs to be sent to the donors and personally hand over the bedkit to each child. A careful check is made to ensure that only children identified by the overseas group receives this “gift of love from Canada”. The work is quite physically demanding, especially in the hot climates where most of the kits are distributed. But the rewards are great.
Why have I enjoyed being a Sleeping Children Around the World volunteer? In The Philippines, “Salamat Po”, “Thank you very much”, spoken by a shy child or a grateful parent conveys the importance of this gift. My years of teaching brought much satisfaction and this volunteer activity is a continuation of that enjoyment. Sleeping Children Around the World is grateful for a grant of $10,000 from the provincial RTO office in 2012. That gift will result in 285 more children receiving “the gift of love”.
For more information about The 100% Charity, go to the website www.scaw.org.
Submitted by Sally Jo Martin District 22