Student founds charity for Senegalese children
Laura Checkley is a junior at Torrey Pines High School with a lot of heart. The 16-year-old just started her own charity for street children, or talibe, living in St. Louis, Senegal.
Her goal: to collect enough clothing, athletic equipment and school supplies to fill a 20-foot shipping container and send it to Senegal for the children.
During the summer of 2007 Checkley spent five weeks working in St. Louis with Projects Abroad, an international relief organization that places volunteers in countries where help is most needed.
“I wanted to get outside of my hometown,” Checkley said.
The experience changed her perspective, she said. Although she had traveled a lot with her parents, Dave Checkley and Lisa Levin, this was her first time in Africa.
Checkley returned to Solana Beach and to her life as a high school junior. But her desire to help the children remained, and in November she got the ball rolling and created Streets of Hope Charity.
In the last month, she’s put her brother Garen to work creating a Web site and her father consulting her in obtaining tax-exempt status.
She’s pounded the pavement asking friends and neighbors for clothing they don’t need and implored her soccer club to donate soccer shoes for the children. St. Peter’s Thrift Store in Del Mar donated “a ton” of clothing to the cause, Checkley said.
Donations needed include money for shipping – Checkley estimates the cost to send the container will be $5,000 – boys’ and men’s clothing, ages 5 to 18, athletic supplies and educational materials.
“I was looking for something to do that would help … I chose Projects Abroad because they stay in one country,” Checkley said. She said they offered the kind of experience she was looking for – staying in one place and getting up every morning to work with the community.
For more information, contact Checkley at (858) 342-5181 or visit www.streetsofhopecharity.org.
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