By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — Some children in Africa will not being attending school empty-handed this year, thanks to one town Girl Scout.
Sophia Jarosz, 10, a recent recipient of a Girl Scout Bronze Award, decided to spend her summer helping out children who were less fortunate than her by collecting donations of school supplies that will be sent to various schools in Africa.
“It feels really good helping people that live so far away and who don’t have as much,” Sophia said.
In order to get her award, Sophia, who started sixth grade at Acadia in September, had to complete 20 hours of work. While her fellow girl scouts decided to work with animals or made blankets for sick people to earn their badges, Sophia decided to take a different route.
When she was younger, Sophia used to play school and wanted to be a teacher. She also understands how important having the proper supplies is to succeeding in school, and wanted to give other children the same opportunities that she has had.
Sophia and a friend came up with the idea for collecting the school supplies. After doing some research, Sophia decided on Africa as the destination for the materials. She is working with the Develop Africa charity, and will be sending the supplies to many different countries, including Cameroon, Kenya and Sierra Leone.
“After we looked at a few places, I saw that Africa needed a lot. There’s a lot of areas around there that need it, so we kind of chose there because there’s a lot of people who need stuff there,” Sophia said. “Knowing that I have so much stuff, it’s amazing to see that some people don’t have a lot. So I was very happy to donate to them and help them out with their school. I know that school is helpful and it teaches people a lot, so I want to make sure that they can have a good education too,” she said.
Sophia distributed fliers asking for donations, and put boxes for the supplies in various locations throughout town.When school ended last May, she visited the three middle schools and was able to gather leftover supplies from lockers. Town residents, Sophia said, were excited to help her out. Some of her neighbors even donated supplies twice.
“They thought it was a really good idea that I was helping people, and they were happy to donate stuff,” she said.
Sophia started the project at the beginning of the summer, and two months later, she finished with eight boxes packed with supplies, including crayons, notebooks, pencils, pens, and markers. She even crafted homemade bookmarks to send along with the supplies. Next, the boxes will be shipped to Develop Africa, and then to the respective schools.
Now Sophia is focusing on her own schoolwork. She’s most looking forward to being able to meet new people and switch classes, and is excited to spend more time writing, another one of her major hobbies.
Her favorite classes are her English and reading, and her favorite books include the “Harry Potter” series, and the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books.
But her charitable work isn’t finished. Sophia said that she would enjoy doing another project like the supplies collection in the future because it feels good to help people. Even though she chose to take the road less traveled for her project, she wasn’t overwhelmed, because she knew that she was making a difference. To people who are looking to help those who are less fortunate than they are, Sophia said that it’s important to find a cause you believe in.
“I liked the idea of the project and I knew that I wanted to do it, and that I could do it, so I just stuck with it,” she said.
It’s also important, she said, to be able to place yourself in another’s shoes.
“Just kind of think of things that you have that other people might not have as much as you do, and how you can help them,” she added.