Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goodbye Containers!!!

Over the last few weeks we have been really busy here getting the containers packed and ready to be shipped out! Basirou, Ousman and I had a weekend marathon packing the last 3 containers full of tons of school supplies and clothing, first we separated each item, then counted them to keep an inventory of what we were shipping and then we packed them away to not be seen until they are thousands of miles and a huge ocean away!

We ended up shipping a total of 5 fifty five gallon containers. The people came all the way from Pennsylvania last Sunday to pick up our containers and we packed their van full! We got a good deal paying $130 per container for shipping.

In a couple of months Basirou and I will be heading to The Gambia where we will meet with a Peace Corps volunteer Ian to unpack and organize everything we have shipped and distribute these items according to schools that are in the most need of them. 3 gallons of chalkboard paint along with several good paint brushes were also sent to help repair damaged chalkboards.

If you want to help and haven't had the chance to you are not too late! We are still accepting financial donations to purchase additional supplies we can carry on in our luggage and also for the supplies to get to where they need to be once in The Gambia. Many of these school supplies are going to the Upper River Region which is several hours drive from the city we are separating these items in. Feel free to give any amount as small as $1 will make a difference! There is a paypal button to the right that is a very easy way to donate any amount you would like to give! Any extra amount made above and beyond what we need for supplies and deliveries will be used to sponsor children who cant afford to go to school for a chance to attend!

For any further questions contact me at Thanks!!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I would like to congratulate Sharon Nevius who is the raffle winner for the $100 Pizazz It! gift certificate! The results of the fundraiser are in: We raised $621 in raffle tickets and Pizazz It! donated $379 to make it an even $1,000 raised. From the donation jar we have collected approximately $50. Enough supplies were donated to fill two entire 55 gallon containers and thanks to donations collected, I have purchased enough to fill three more 55 gallon containers. These five containers are set to be shipped out in a few days so that they will arrive in time for my and Basirou's arrival in The Gambia (West Africa) in December. Congrats Sharon and happy shopping!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gambia 101

The Gambia is Africa's smallest country, completely surrounded by Senegal (other than the ocean line), located on the western side of africa along the Atlantic Ocean. They are colonized by the Brittish therfor their countries language is english
however most are unable to speak it. You will find 4 different languages being spoken there which are Wolof, Mandinka, Fula and Serehuli. Most Gambian are able to speak 3 out of the 4 local languages but only 1 being their primary language.

You know how here in the States we get our own plate along with silverware can choose from eating a large array of foods and usually end up eating it in front of the TV, well in The Gambia it is for the most part completely opposite. All lunch and dinner meals consist of rice accompanied by some sort of sauce, cassava and okra, as far as meat is concerned you don't really eat it often, it is a luxury to have it. With that said they do eat fish
a lot, since they are right along the ocean and there is a river in the middle of the country that runs almost completely across there is plenty of fish to go around. The food is served in a large communal bowl, typically women eat with other women and men eat with other men. When eating you do use your hands but make sure to use your right hand only!

So you think you've never heard of The Gambia? Odds are you have somewhat heard of it, remember the movie ROOTS or Kunta Kinte? Well if you haven't already figured out where I am going with this, yes, ROOTS is based off of Kunta Kinte who is from The Gambia. The picture to the left is an island called Juffure Island, also known as James Island. Kunta, along with many other Gambians were held captive on this island until ships came to get them. They were bought and sold as slaves to Europe, Haiti, Jamaica and America. They have kept the island in the condition that is was in 200 years ago, it is really a touching experience to see the African side of the slavery that went on.

So, I know none of this was really about school supplies or anything that my actual project is for but I thought it may help to get a bit of the Gambian background, for you to understand where The Gambia is and what they are known for. Hopefully soon I will do a "The Gambia 102" for you because this does not even cover half of what makes The Gambia!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A discount & book bags!

Pizazz It! Scrapbooks, a wonderful store that I have mentioned before, is offering a 20% off discount on your entire purchase to those who bring in a donation of school supplies!! This has gone over wonderfully, I have had the small collection container there for about 3 weeks now and have emptied it about 4 times!! I know I say it in every blog entry but THANK YOU to everyone who has helped, I really cant say this enough.
If you are in the central Ohio area and love to scrapbook bring in a donation of school supplies for your 20% discount, this is going on until September 19, 2010.

This project originally started as a personal project, I wanted to be able to help out a school or 2 full of children who really needed it. I ended up opening up and extending this project to those who also want to help. I know personally I have always wanted to donate and help children but never knew which organization I wanted to choose and where exactly everything I donated would go. For that reason I started the blog, I want those who donate to see how happy the children are when receiving what you gave them, I want those who give cash to know exactly where it is going (you can even tell me specifically what you want it to go toward, IE: shipping, supplies, sponsoring a child to attend school). This week I went out with my stash of cash I had set aside and bought some book bags! Book bags are a pretty big deal to have there so I am really excited to see their faces on these!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And The Countdown Begins

Time is moving faster and faster each day! Only 4 months and a couple of weeks and I will be arriving in The Gambia, I cant wait! I have enough items to start packing my 2nd container, I plan on doing that next weekend. I will begin shipping the containers around the beginning of October so hopefully they will arrive around the same day that I do. My plans for when the containers get there are to meet up with Ian a peace corps volunteer leader over there who has been living in The Gambia for a little over 2 years now, we will be separating the school supplies and clothing donations I have shipped so that they can go to several different schools in multiple villages. I also have purchased chalkboard paint to repair and paint new chalkboards for the schools, I will be visiting one of the schools (if I'm lucky more) to help repair the chalkboards and visit with the children.
If you would like to donate or have any questions about donating feel free to e-mail me! Or if you would like more information about sponsoring a child to attend school for the year, suggestions or just comments please e-mail! I want to hear what you have to say

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Container, Packed and Ready!!

I am excited to announce that I have collected enough items to get the very first container packed full of school supplies! Baz & I separated, counted, organized & packed it all away. The containers we are shipping are 50 gallon containers, and do hold a good amount of supplies. I cant say enough how grateful I am for all the donations I have received from all of you very generous people, Thank You!

Above: A picture of the container from a direct view so you can see how tall & wide it is, for a better visual I am 5'2 and the container comes up just shy of my shoulders!

Below: A birds eye view of the packed container.

I had so much fun going through packing the container, I cant wait until we have enough to pack up the 2nd one!! I cant believe how far I have been able to come in such short amount of time, I know this wouldn't be possible without your help, so again, Thank You all so very much!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Off to a good start!

July has set in and back to school sales are already starting!! Walgreen's started off the sales with 10count packs of pens and pencils for only 19cents. So, over the weekend I went out with 3 of my wonderful friends to start stocking up. I have received $20 in cash donations so far (that is not including the raffle at Pizazz It! Scrapbooks) and we used $16 of that cash to purchase some of those items. So far we have collected 50 packs of pencils and 83 packs of pens. If your doing the math I know, I know, that was a bit over the $16 budget, but I couldn't help it, I used my own stash of money that I have set aside for this project to make up for it, the kids deserve it!

I was contacted by a wonderful lady on the north side of Columbus who had some packs of paper that she would like to donate, when I drove there and had seen that there were 5 full boxes of paper packs I couldn't believe it! It was a wonderful surprise. I would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed in any form so far weather it be giving actual school supplies or clothing, purchasing a raffle ticket or donating cash. It means a lot to me and even more to the children who will be receiving it. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have or if you have anything you would like to donate. or if you just want to donate cash and you are not from around the Ohio area there is a paypal donate button on the right, 100% of money donated goes toward this project and will be for the children in The Gambia. Don't ever feel like any donation is too small, a pack of pencils or a simple $1 makes all the difference!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A little more about me

So I’ve already told you all about my project that I am working on but I have neglected to tell you about myself. So here goes - My name is Ashley Rock and I am just short of 24 years old. I was born and raised in Ohio (Go Bucks!) and my favorite color is Whirlpool, which to a scrapbooker means light blue!

You might wonder what drives me to do this project. The answer comes from a large combination of events in my life but to keep it simple I will share a few of the main reasons. In the movie, Pay It Forward, a kid gives help to people in need and in return asks only that they help three other people. If you haven’t seen this movie, I really recommend watching it because not only is a great story line but it is truly inspiring! My concept is similar to the movie in a way because I feel as if my life has been blessed with so many people who have been there to help me when I have really needed it. For example, when I bought my house two years ago I was only twenty-one and used every last penny purchasing the house. While I celebrated my achievement, I had nothing left to spend for anything to put in the house I had just purchased… and by nothing, I mean that sincerely. If it weren’t for my wonderful family members, friends and co-workers pulling together to help me then I don’t know how I would have been able to pull everything together. I was given couches, end tables, a tv,a kitchen table set, a bed, dishes, lamps, etc. I'm talking the whole nine yards! I didn’t expect anybody to lend a hand to help me but they did and not only will I NEVER forget but I will be forever grateful. It showed me there are so many good people who touch our everyday lives and never ask for anything in return.

When I went to The Gambia in March of 2009, I knew that was where I wanted to “pay it forward.” The people there were so happy despite the poverty that they live with everyday. From our perspective, it would be considered poverty for many Gambians it is just life. Their situation is all that they have ever known so they have just learned to live happily within their means. One of the most striking things is that there are very few options for them in terms of jobs. Most everyone is a farmer/entrepreneur and barely makes any kind of profit for all of their hard work. Despite the hardship that could produce bitterness in just about anyone, these were the kindest people I have known. The thing about Gambians is that they have a strong desire to learn and to know what is out there to know but most do not have the resources or finances to enable them these opportunities. That is what many people involved with the Peace Corp there in The Gambia are trying to do for them. They are teaching the youth how to use the land to cultivate more profitable crops, how to make honey by keeping beehives and most importantly, educating everyone on the importance of prenatal care and the care of newborns. These are just a few of the strides that the Peace Corps are making towards a better tomorrow for Gambians.

Where do I come in? Myself, I have many talents but teaching is not one of them. I may not be able to teach and do everything that people in the Peace Corps are doing for the country but I can put my own talents to use for a good cause. If I am able to collect enough school supplies to be shipped there and distributed to the children with the most need then I will have put my talents to good use. I know the value of quality education and I want these children to have the opportunity to know its value as well. With knowledge there is opportunity and with opportunity all things are possible. As Americans, we take so much for granted without ever realizing it. One very common question to ask our children is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” to which you will have a list of replies so long and so varied that it could make you head spin. In Gambia, the options are so limited and without education the list of opportunities will never get longer. Naturally, I don’t expect everyone to jump on my band wagon and want to donate or support the cause but if you can find it in your heart to give then every penny or every item will make a difference in the life of a child. The famous W.B. Yeats once said that “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Every single person who steps up to help the members of the youngest generation pursue education is lighting a fire for a flame that will burn further into the future than many of these children could ever have hoped. You have been lucky enough to feel the warmth of a fire lit for you and now I ask – Will you help light the way for the next generation?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thank You Pizazz It! Scrapbooks

A major THANK YOU goes out to Pizazz It! Scrapbooks in Pickerington, Ohio!! I was allowed to purchase a $100 gift card to Pizazz It! Scrapbooks which will be raffled off at $1 per ticket or $5 for 6 tickets. This raffle will continue on for two months (until September) and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the purchase of school supplies and hopefully sponsoring at least one child in The Gambia (hopefully more!) to go to school for an entire year! See their website (blog tab, News2know) for more details

**Gambia School Facts**
The cost of a child to go to school in The Gambia for a year is only approx. $125 per child which may not sound like much to an American like myself but in The Gambia only the “rich” can afford to send their child to school. The Gambia has a new law called the Education Policy which allows females to attend school free of charge until ninth grade. Males on the other hand still have to pay to attend first through ninth grade. Females must pay to attend tenth through twelfth grade, which unfortunately tends to keep them from going to school past ninth grade. Before the Education Policy less than 40% of children in The Gambia attended school. While the new legislation policy has pushed progress forward significantly and is improving with attendance, the lack of school supplies is still severely hindering the education process. However, we are here to help that seda seda (slowly, slowly as they say in Pulaar).
Thanks again to Pizazz It! Scrapbooks and to those who are supporting the cause by purchasing raffle tickets! I sure hope YOU win the $100 gift card!

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Introduction

This is my induction into the world of blogging. I have never been one to blog about anything in the past but now my family and friends have been encouraging me to start one so that I can share the experiences from my project, A Future For The Gambia. At first I wasn’t sold on the idea of this kind of blog because honestly who wants to read about fundraising and donations? But then I remembered that this project is about so much more than that – I want to make a difference. More importantly, I want to show people that every individual has the power to make a difference. That was when I decided that I did need to blog about what I am doing but not just so that I could share the experiences from my project with everyone. This blog project is more for me than anything else so that a year from now, hopefully longer, I can look back to where I started and see how far I have come.

Explanation time – The name of my project is A Future For The Gambia. In March of 2009, I went to The Gambia on Africa’s west coast for the first time and fell in love with the country and its people. During the month I spent there, I couldn’t help but notice the extreme difference in everyday life for them. When it was time to come home to the States, I returned bursting with ideas on ways to help! Since then I have been collecting clothing and school supplies from friends and family, as well as purchasing many supplies myself, to ship to the country and be distributed to the schools and families in the villages. In March 2010, I shipped four containers full of these items to The Gambia and when I called to see if they were helpful, I was overwhelmed by the response! It meant so much to them that I had done this for them that when I called they couldn’t do anything but say thank you over & over & over again. After realizing the impact that these supplies had for them, I knew that I wanted to do more. Until now, this had been a personal endeavor but I knew that by making it public that I could make a bigger impact than I ever could on my own.

About a month ago I decided to implement some ideas for expanding my efforts. I gave this project its title because the future of The Gambia is what I am trying to influence. With each new generation comes a new future for every country so the easiest way to make an influential change is to begin with the children. The main focus of this project is to collect gently used clothing and school supplies. Any money collected will be used to pay for shipping of these supplies and with enough help, it will ultimately lead to be opportunity to sponsor children in The Gambia to have the chance to attend school. In addition to expanding my efforts to include the help of people outside my own personal family and friends, I am now working with members of the Peace Corps who are currently living and helping in The Gambia. In early 2011, I will be returning to the country to meet with these Peace Corps members and distribute the supplies that I have collected to the neediest school and families in the villages. Until then, I will be doing my best to collect as much as possible with your help!

Now that you know the history of the project, let’s focus on the future!