Gift-giving can take many forms -- from the simple to the elaborate -- but each gift carries a similar message of appreciation and affection from the giver to the recipient. Bonnie Campbell Hill, a long-time supporter of Room to Read from Washington state, shares her holiday gift tradition which continues to build bright futures for children in developing communities.
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I’ve been in education as a teacher, a college professor, a consultant, and as an author of professional books. I’m also an avid traveler, growing up in Turkey, and working with international schools around the world as an educational consultant. I truly believe that the path toward peace and change in the world is through education.
Several years ago, my family and I decided that rather than giving holiday gifts to our long list of friends and family, we would take the opportunity to share some of the resources we’ve been blessed with and make donations to various charities. In searching for a nonprofit organization in which to invest that focused on international education, I happened upon John Wood’s book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World," and also had the chance to hear him speak. In Room to Read, I knew I had found an organization that not only embraced my belief in the power of literacy and education, but it is also making a significant impact for future generations in nine countries around the world.
For the past five years through Room to Read, our family has supported girls’ education, local language children’s books, schools, and libraries in Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Nepal. Two years ago, we were even fortunate enough to visit one of the libraries we had sponsored in Nepal. It’s one thing to see photographs in a slide show or on a website, but it is an entirely different experience to actually visit a library and see the dramatic impact on the lives of so many children!
Recently I found out that I have a rare form of cancer for which I am currently receiving chemotherapy and scheduled for surgery. This sobering news made me pause and really think about the work I’ve done with literacy and how I could come up with a way to have an even larger impact on the lives of children.
To do this, my family and I have decided to start a personal giving campaign with Room to Read to reach an ambitious fundraising goal of $400,000 to support literacy programs in India. Having spent much time working and traveling in India, I know how critical education is to ending the cycle of poverty in this area of the world.
The money we raise in our campaign, affectionately called "Bonnie's Big Idea," will be used to provide much-needed educational resources to children in four regions of India, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarkhand and Maharashtra. Children in these areas currently have little or nothing, but could, with education, change the path of their lives from poverty to opportunity.
I'm very proud that already several of our friends and family members have committed to helping grow our small idea into a big idea affecting the lives of thousands of boys and girls -- today and for generations to come.
Please don't forget:
For ideas about how you can give holiday gifts that will have lasting effects on the lives of children, please visit our Holiday Gift Catalog. All gifts made online through the end of December will be matched 100% up to $500,000. You can also set up your own personal giving campaign on our website.