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On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2000, the National Council of Churches delegation will present 1,500 Church World Service “Gift of the Heart” School Kits to schools in Cardenas, Cuba, including Elian Gonzalez’s school.  Assembled in U.S. congregations, the School Kits weigh a total of 2,190 pounds and are valued at $11,550. 

This will be an NCC delegation’s second visit to Elian’s school.  The first was January 3, to share with Elian’s classmates the Council’s concern for his return to his father.  This time, the visit is to celebrate the success of the U.S. and Cuban ecumenical councils’ high-profile collaboration to lay the groundwork for Elian’s return to his father. 

Thousands of CWS School Kits have gone to other schools in Cuba since 1992– most recently, in February and October 1998. 

What are Church World Service “Gift of the Heart” School Kits? 

The Church World Service “Gift of the Heart” Kits program enlists local congregations across the United States in assembling the kits.  The contents of these “starter sets” are simple, small things – pencils, tablets, washcloths, a scrub brush – but having or not having them can make a world of difference in an on-going development program or when disaster strikes.  

Health, Clean-Up, Baby and School Kits are the most requested by CWS’s partners around the world.  Congregations assemble the kits according to specifications published by Church World Service.  For example, each School Kit includes: 

        One pair of blunt scissors

        Pads or notebooks of ruled paper 8-1/2" X 11" containing 150-200 sheets of paper

        One 30-centimeter ruler (12")

        One pencil sharpener

        Six new pencils with erasers

        One large eraser

        Twelve sheets colored construction paper

        One box of 24 crayons

        One 12” x 14” cloth bag with cloth handles 

Items are packed into the cloth bag, the top is folded over and the bundle is secured with two large rubber bands.  Congregations then box the School Kits, ship them postage paid to Church World Service, Brethren Service Center Annex, 601 Main Street, New Windsor, MD 21776-0188, and send $1 per kit to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515, for processing/shipping of the kits to their final destination.  (Alternatively, people may send $11 per kit to Church World Service, in Elkhart, to allow CWS to buy school supplies for use in classroom settings.)

The NCC and Cuba