Monday, February 14, 2011

Books for Guatemalan Schools

Over 800 pounds of textbooks from Avalon Schools are heading to schools in Guatemala.  Retired Avalon paramedic John McKay, and retired Avalon teacher Karen McKay spent a year teaching in Guatemala and saw schools there with few or no textbooks. 
John McKay with a shipment of textbooks headed to Guatemala

Avalon Schools had hundreds of obsolete books in storage, many of them Spanish texts left from the 1990s when Avalon had a bilingual program.  Last year, Avalon principal Joe Carlson and the Long Beach Unified School District permitted the McKays to begin clearing out these books for shipment to schools in Guatemala.  The first batch of books arrived in February 2010, and were distributed to five very needy elementary schools under the guidance of the charitable organization, Mayan Families.  Now a second shipment consisting mostly of middle and high school books has just left the island to be trucked south.  Many of these books are earmarked for a new junior high that just opened in January in a village that had no educational facilities for students above 6th grade.  It takes from 4 to 8 weeks for overland shipments to arrive in the country and clear customs, so the McKays will travel to Guatemala in April to distribute the books. Thanks to the generous contributions of the Avalon Rotary Club, Catalina Freight Lines, and individual donors, much of the cost of the shipping has been covered. 

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