BFA fifth grade students send care packages as a community service project to Vanuatu

(Permission has been given by parents or guardians of these students to appear in these photos to BFA Teacher Georgette Huffman
However, they will not be identified by either first or last names)

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Shirley Bingham talks with Mrs. Huffman, her 5th grade homebase group and student representatives from the other three fifth grade classes about the process involved in sending packages to the children and families in Vanuatu. It takes three months for a package mailed in Vermont to arrive to the South Sea Island of Vanuatu.

Thoughts of a South Sea Island may sound interesting and yes, very different from our local town of Fairfax. Our fifth graders can now imagine what life is like for the children in a very rural village called Milip Village, South Coast, Malekula thanks to a returned Peace Corps volunteer couple. Shirley and Bill Bingham came to BFA on March 5th along with several others from the Green Mountain Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to speak about their experiences during a two years stay in Milip.

These students eagerly listened to the Peace Day Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who visit BFA Fairfax Elementary school for an all day educational program explaining the cultures and happenings during their time in other countries. The students asked volunteers Shirley and Bill Bingham how they could help the people of Vanuatu where they served for two years. Shirley mentioned that it cost a lot to mail care packages there.

After the Peace Corps volunteers were gone, these students brainstormed ways to help. They organized a bake sale, got help from other fifth grade students and parents and held a very successful bake sale. The students made lists of things necessary to do hold fundraiser.

They did some marketing: they asked other students what they prefer to eat and buy at bake sales by taking a poll. They organized flyers to send home to other fifth graders asking for their support by pledging to donate bake goods and lined up volunteers to man the bake cart and bake table. Posters were hung around the building to advertise and reminders were sent home the day before the big Spring Fling Bake Sale. The day of the sale fifth graders eagerly pushed a cart full of yummy baked goods to each classroom in the elementary school while others manned a bake table in the main lobby to sell to the high school and middle school students. It was a sell out by 12:45 PM!

Shirley visited the 5th grade class two more times. Shirley came back to the school just before the April 11th bake sale to have the kids sort and decide what items to send to these families and school children while still respecting their culture and needs. She explained the culture and had the children decide which items to include that would be culturally appropriate to the citizens of Vanuatu. This meant deciding which books to include- ones with snow and snowmen or others that showed rain forest trees and an island setting. The kids also chose some used t-shirts to send making sure they did not have logos or pictures the Vanuatu kids would not understand.

Shirley came back one last time to help the students seal up packages to prepare for shipment to Vanuatu, South Seas islands in the southern Hemisphere. It takes 3 months for mail to reach them. Shirley was able to send two boxes of school supplies and two boxes of family supplies to Vanuatu along with a disposable camera and a letter. We're hoping to have the school children and families in Vanuatu take pictures of themselves and send back the camera to us to be developed.

Georgette Hoffman's 5th grade class spent $82 for postage to mail their care packages to Vanuatu.
(The above photo scanned from the St. Albans Messenger in no way reflects the quality of Greg Bessette's photography)

This successful bake sale sold over 843 units of baked good items packaged in 'quarter' ($.25) sizes to BFA students in the elementary through high schools. They have followed through with their idea since the March 5th Peace Day at BFA. They planned, organized and had a very successful bake sale on April 11th to raise the funds. I am proud that they saw a need, found a way to help and followed through with it. Now they are ready to mail the packages to the school and villagers of Vanuatu who have a very different culture than we in Vermont. That is a valuable lesson in itself.

The BFA Fairfax fifth graders will also be able to help with another Peace Corps outreach project because of their successful fund raising efforts in addition to the Vanuatu project.

Fifth grade students made a poster with maps, pictures, and letters about the villagers and students in Vanuatu to help explain their project to the other BFA elementary students before the Spring Fling bake sale fund raiser.

Students sort crayons into small packages to be sent to Vanuatu.


Students sort and select sewing supplies to include in the packages to the villagers.

Students prepare a box for shipping.

Students decide which of these used t-shirts would be culturally appropriate to send to the villagers of Vanuatu.


Story by Georgette Huffman - BFA Teacher
Website by:
Henry A. Raymond
May 9, 2003