Archive for Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Attorney collects items for children

Toiletries, as well as pens and pencils, to be distributed in Cuba

September 18, 2002

A local attorney hopes donations from Tonganoxie residents will make their way soon to children in Cuba.

For the past several weeks, Bill Grant has been collecting personal hygiene items from employees at First State Bank and Trust, where he works as general counsel. Grant will turn donations over to People to People, a group he traveled with in October 2000 to Cuba.

"I've had a lot of interest," Grant said. "I've only announced it inside the bank, but we have over 100 employees, and I've gotten a lot of response back."

Grant said the trip that he and Damon New took to Cuba was fascinating because it exposed them to life under socialist rule.

"Fidel Castro and his government like to brag about how everyone in the country has access to basic life needs like food, shelter, health care and education," Grant said. "And to a certain extent he is right but the quality of the basic needs that the government can afford to provide is significantly below what all of us are accustomed to here in Kansas."

During his trip, Grant said, children were appreciative of small gifts, even pens and pencils.

"We soon learned that the small shampoos and soaps in our hotel rooms that we all took completely for granted were deeply appreciated by the Cuban children, because most Cuban families receive very little or sometimes no ration of personal hygiene items," he said.

So during the past two years, Grant has collected soaps, shampoos and other small items in hopes of sending them to Cuba. Now, People to People has another trip planned, and participants on that trip have agreed to carry the items to distribute to children in Cuba.

Grant said he's hopeful other Tonganoxie residents will want to help.

"We'd like to have everything together and ready for delivery by the first of October," he said.

Anyone who is interested in donating items including full-size or sample-size toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and soap, along with pens, pencils and Kleenex may drop them off at any First State Bank location.

"I hope there are other people in the community who want to toss in a bar of soap or a tube of toothpaste," Grant said. "It would really make a difference. It's a small gesture for us, but it truly is a big deal."

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