Three shipping containers filled with more than 500 old desks, chairs and cabinets are headed to impoverished students in Honduras, thanks to a partnership between Penn Manor School District and Central American Relief Efforts.
Two dozen volunteers from CARE and Penn Manor on Saturday loaded shipping containers with used furniture from the former Hambright Elementary School on Temple Avenue. Most of the gear will go to a school being built for 200 students in Javier Soriano. Additional desks and chairs will end up in a nearby kindergarten building recently built by CARE.
The furniture had been stored at the old Hambright, which closed in 2014 and was replaced with a new school on Charlestown Road with new furnishings.
No one was interested in purchasing the used materials, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager, and Penn Manor would have to pay someone to remove or store them. By donating the furnishings to CARE, the district is assuring they will be put to good use in one of the poorest regions of one of Central America’s poorest countries.
The partnership between Penn Manor and CARE began three years ago when a school district staff member learned of CARE’s effort to build schools in Honduras and mentioned the project to the Penn Manor administration.
In 2013, the district donated used furniture from Central Manor Elementary School to a school being built in La Laguna de San Antonio de Padua, Honduras. Last year, Penn Manor High School’s Young Humanitarian Club raised $2,000 for construction of a second school in Los Ranchos de Esquimay.
“It is hard to describe how much this means to the Hondurans who will have schools where there were none,” said Andrew Appel, executive director of CARE, a Lancaster-based agency that provides humanitarian and medical aid to impoverished residents of Honduras.
“Despite living in grinding poverty, parents want their children to get an education, but in many villages, there is a teacher and students, but no physical school structure – classes are outdoors, in the blazing sun, exposing students to bugs and wind,” he said.
“A building means fewer days of missed class, protection from the sun and rain, real desks and chairs. These are things these children have never experienced – ever.”
About two hundred desks and chairs, five teachers’ desks, shelves and other materials will go to the new school, which is being built with donations from individuals and groups in Lancaster. Volunteers with CARE – including two Penn Manor graduates – are planning to visit Honduras this summer for the school’s opening.