Alum on Journey to Collect 1000 Toys for African Kids
Much like the movie Toy Story, this is a story of friends. Justin Wilson (’08) is proud of his friend Adam Taylor (’08), and he wants people to know the story of his journey. But now Justin is putting his friendship where his heart is….and he has embarked on a journey of 1000 toys.
We’ll let Justin tell you the whole story:
“To tell the whole story of this toy drive one needs to know the whole story of Adam Taylor’s (AT’s) postgraduate life. He graduated in 2008, and at this point we all new AT was going to avoid the corporate lifestyle, or as he called it ‘selling out to the man.’ So he worked on the Barbara Kingsolver/Steve Hopp farm and worked at the Harvest Table restaurant in Meadowview.
As soon as he saved enough money, he ran into the woods and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine. When returning from that 6 months adventure he immediately started his Peace Corps application. He took 6 months for himself and then felt it was time to give a couple years to the world. His application was eventually approved and he left for Zambia on February 14, 2011.
He was stationed in Lusaka for three months, where he learned the language and lived with a host family. As soon as he got there he was itching to get started working in the bush, where his volunteering efforts would mean much more. After his training period he was under the impression that he would be working to improve streams and drinking water, which he was perfectly happy with. Surprisingly, he got stationed in a village that needed more help creating a sustainable food sources. He used what he learned with the Kingsolver/Hopp family and has since been creating a sustainable farm, and teaches the villagers how to maintain it and cultivate it after his Peace Corps days are over.
Needless to say, he still has a great deal of work to do. On top of his environmental duties there, he is also responsible for educating his village on safe sex and AIDS prevention.
As anyone who knows Adam would expect, it’s not all work. He also brought his mandolin with him on this journey, so the young people of the village naturally gravitate around him.
While having a conversation with him last month, we talked about the kids there. How he hasn’t seen a toy since he has been there. His mother had sent a few things for the children in August, and part of the package was a bottle of bubbles. When he was telling me about these children, and the joy that a simple bottle of bubbles brought them, I couldn’t help but start thinking about what I could do. So, in Mid-September many of our college friends and I started to gather toys to send to him as a Christmas surprise.
We know now that in order for each child to have a toy, we will need to collect 1000 toys! We are raising money to cover the shipping costs (around $1400), and we are collecting toys now in hopes of having them to Adam by Christmas."
Justin is undaunted by the prospect of 1000 toys. Perhaps it’s his affection for his BLZ brother, or maybe it’s a strong dose of Christmas spirit. If you’d like to follow his progress…or perhaps flex your own Christmas muscles…send a note to Justin to get details.
Justin finishes the telling of his toy story with a moment of appreciation for his own childhood, and a twinge of sadness for those with less: “We are all so blessed to be from a place where kids have toys from the time they are born to the time they have to pay their own bills.”