Archive for November, 2010

Fifth Grader donates 100th Guitar to Nicaraguan Children

November 30, 2010


A 10-year-old girl in Wichita is raising money to help Books for Life to provide guitars to kids in Nicaragua who can’t afford musical instruments. She has sponsored the 100th guitar donated through HeartStrings, a program of local nonprofit Trees for Life.

Adara Claphan, 10, is not only learning to play guitar herself—she also is raising money so that poor children in Nicaragua will have guitars to play. One of the guitars she is sponsoring is the 100th to be donated through HeartStrings, a program of Wichita nonprofit Trees for Life International—bringing the count halfway to the overall goal of 200 guitars.

Adara, a fifth grader at a public school in Wichita, was inspired when she visited the Trees for Life office with her grandfather. There she met Balbir Mathur, president of Trees for Life. Mathur told her about HeartStrings, a movement to provide guitars to kids in Nicaragua who can’t afford musical instruments.

The guitars, which normally sell for $350 each, are being offered by the Manuel Rodriguez & Sons guitar company for only $50 each as a gift to children in impoverished areas of Nicaragua. The guitars will go to libraries established by a branch of Trees for Life called “Books for Life.” That way, each guitar will be enjoyed by many children.

The idea struck a chord with Adara. “I told Balbir, ‘Actually, I play guitar, so that would be pretty cool if I could send one of these.’ And he told me, ‘Well, you could make this into a fundraiser.’”

Later in her visit, Adara saw volunteers making jewelry out of beads from India. That sparked another idea. “I said, ‘Why don’t I sell these, and that’s how I’ll make the money.’”

Adara started selling the necklaces and earrings for $5 each to people at her school and church, and going door-to-door in her neighborhood. She explains to people, “Each time I raise $50, they will send a guitar to Nicaragua.”

Adara says the response has been positive and generous. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s really nice that you’re doing that.’ And sometimes I get, ‘I don’t want the jewelry, but I will just give you $5 to donate.’… And one time a girl bought three necklaces and then handed me $30 and told me to keep the change.”

Adara is excited about giving the 100th guitar through HeartStrings. “It makes me feel really good, because I heard the goal was 200 guitars, and I sent the 100th guitar. And I hope to send a couple more, so I got more necklaces and earrings, and I’ve been selling again.”

Adara is part of a growing number of people joining the HeartStrings movement, which is headed by Ann Garvey and Richard Crowson. “Music is the international language of the heart; it can truly change lives,” says Garvey. “We hope to provide tools with which these children can bring to life the music in their hearts.”

“This is a movement in which anyone can participate,” Crowson adds. “For only $50, someone can provide a quality instrument. Or, a share of a guitar can be given for as little as $5.”

When asked why she is reaching out to help children in another part of the world, children she will never meet, Adara explains: “I thought about how much I like playing guitar, and how it would make another kid in a different country feel—happier than I feel, because I know they’re probably a poor country and don’t get many things like this.

“I always think, when I get a Christmas gift, I feel there’s kids that don’t get Christmas, and there’s kids that don’t even get meals every day. So, when I send a guitar, they kind of get a Christmas gift.”

For information or to donate: or
Contact: info(at)booksforlife(dot)org
Phone: 316-945-6929
Or, send a check payable to: Books for Life, 3006 W. St. Louis, Wichita, KS

Books for Life Supports Early Reader Project

November 24, 2010


 Three years David Grayson of Dodge City, Kansas started a project designed to encourage area children to read. Grayson built 15 bookcases and stocked them with books for beginning readers. This year with the assistance of Walt Redburn, John Featerstone and Marsha Gomez 50 bookcases were built for area students.

Bookcases waiting for a new home


 To insure that each of the 50 bookcases came well stocked with books, David Kimble, executive director of Trees for Life International, in cooperation with Dillon’s Food Stores provided 1,000 books for the project. The students receiving the bookcases were selected by their respective elementary schools and from Bright Beginning Head Start and Sacred Heart Cathedral School. Each bookcase is personalized with a plaque bearing the child’s name, and a certificate with their sponsor’s name on it. Grayson uses individuals and local businesses to sponsor the cost of a bookcase.

Sponsor Walt Redburn with Student

And what about next year? If 50 bookcases filled with books were good, then 65 has to be even better, right?  Well that’s what David Grayson and his carpenter elves think.

A True Thanksgiving – Books – Books for Life

November 16, 2010



Lamiel Phiri, a native of Harare, Zimbabwe, connected with Trees for Life a little over ten years ago. Since that time Books for Life (the educational component of Trees for Life) has been evolved with Lamiel and the various orphanage schools that are his heart and soul. Lamiel, a man whose heart is bigger than his body when it comes to providing for the schools and its children sent the photograph of some of the students with some of their new books provided by Books for Life. In our society it is hard for us to understand how a school could even exist without books, unfortunately that too often is the case.

 Lamiel writes that the orphanage schools did not originally have books and “these will continue to go a long way in giving the children the much-needed books to read and practice reading….” He closed his letter of thanks by saying, “Well the tears have dried up now and you must see the radiant smile I have for a prayer answered. I love those children and you have just unlocked one of their headaches by providing books for the children.”