Notebooks of Hope


School Supplies

Do you remember going school supply shopping as a kid?

I do.

I remember going to Walmart as an elementary school child and seeing a seemingly endless line of people all clamoring over an equally endless stock of pencils, pens, binders, notebooks, and every other kind of school supply you could think of. Every year I would be in awe of how many options there. The number of colors available in the folder section was a rainbow of possibilities only exceeded by the multitude of colors in crayon boxes – many with exotic names I had never heard of.

Side note – who at Crayola gets to name colors?? I mean, that is the real creative genius there. Anyone can blend colors together to get different shades, but someone has to name them. ALL of them. I imagine it would be easy for the first 50, but then you start running out of names and in a late-night, red-eyed, coffee-infused brainstorming session words just start flowing that no one would ever use in regular conversation.

That has to be how we ended up with colors called Screamin’ Green, Razzle Dazzle Rose, and Purple Mountains Majesty. And my personal favorites: Mauvelous, Jazzberry Jam, and Razzmatazz.

Ok. Side note complete. Now, where was I?

Oh yes. School supplies. In the end, my mental effort would always go to the same thing: which notebooks I was going to choose.

The outside covers of notebooks were a status symbol at my school (and I’m sure may others). For some reason the notebooks you chose were essentially how you set your personal brand. Did you want people to think of you as edgy, independent, maybe even a little out-there? Then you chose bright colors, vivid designs, and interesting art work.

Or maybe someone wanted to show they were too-cool for the design game. Maybe there were so sophisticated that only had notebooks with solid covers. Talk about a bold choice.

At the time it felt like these decisions would have eternal ramifications. Either the notebooks would set me up for social success or I would spend the next year alone, friendless, and all by myself at a lunch table every day.

A little overly dramatic? Yes. But then again, since when have elementary school kids been accused of being emotion-less and purely logical?

Inside vs. Outside

Looking back it makes me laugh that I cared so much about what those notebooks looked like. The whole world seemed to hinge on those covers while the real value was what was written inside them. Those pages were where I took notes, practiced math equations, wrote poems and stories, drew shapes and animals, and performed countless other activities that opened my mind up to the world around me.

Those pages helped me learn what was possible, and what I could accomplish if I worked hard.

Looking back, it wasn’t the designs on the covers that impacted my life. It was the blank pages between them.

Giving Thanks

If you were anything like me, I never once stopped to think about how blessed I was to attend school, to learn, and to have the food and supplies to put it into practice. It strikes me how much I took for granted what would go on those pages, and even more so, that I would even pages and pencils to write on at all.

I took for granted how much my parents fought to provide everything I needed. How they held me accountable to learning and doing my homework. How the encouraged me to learn, to explore, to test, and to be the best I could be at whatever I was doing.

I came across one of those notebooks a few years ago. Every one of the crinkled pages was full with childish scribbled representing hours of hard work and my parent’s love.

Each pencil mark was a piece of sand, each page a piece of rebar, and each notebook a bag of rocks that all mixed together to create the concrete foundation for who I am today.

Those notebooks represent the hope my parents had that would be able to learn about the world, apply that knowledge, and

Notebooks of Hope



The same way that my parents had great hopes for what I would learn, we have great hopes for what the children in our programs will learn. We have seen time and time again how much education can change the lives of the children in our schools. We have even watched first-hand as the hopes and dreams of entire families shift because of the education their children are receiving.

That is why, every year, we invest in school supplies – particularly notebooks and pencils – for the children in our schools and single mother programs. We believe that with access to education and the right tools to put it into practice, these children can do what generations before them never had a chance to do.

To learn to read and write.

To learn to about this amazing world and opportunities outside of their village.

And to learn about who they are and what they can become if they try.

Lifting Hope High

I love the picture to the right. It is from one of our recent notebook drop-offs at our Leon school. I love the unbridled joy on the faces of the kids as they hold their new prized procession: notebooks.

I my mind, they aren’t simply lifting paper above their heads. They are lifting up their fragile hopes, dreams, and futures for the whole world to see. Joyously optimistic about the wonders of this world and what they can become.

So much will be against them as they try to learn: hunger, extreme poverty, disease, and a culture that tells them they are worthless. Their little arms will carry so much weight to keep those notebooks lifted high and break through the cycle of poverty they are shackled by.

But we will continue to encourage them. To help them lift their arms when they are tired. To remind them they are loved by us and the one that is greater than us. That they have value, purpose, and strength beyond even what they can imagine.

We will be there and we hope you will join us.

Thank you to everyone that supports our work. These deliveries and our work with these children would not be possible if we didn’t have your help.

Chris & The With One Hope Team

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