LMU Cares Continues Outreach with Project Knapsack

Students from Molalatladi Primary School in Soweto, South Africa read letters from Jefferson Elementary.

May 5, 2010

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- LMU Cares, the community service initiative of the LMU men's basketball program, and Project Knapsack teamed up with fourth grade students from Jefferson Elementary School in Lennox, Calif., for an end of the year publishing party. As April came to a close, members from the men's basketball team and coaching staff visited Jefferson to deliver pen pal letters from their new friends at the Molalatladi Primary School, in Soweto, South Africa.

In partnership with Project Knapsack Inc, a global pen pal and backpack program, LMU Cares was able to provide students from the local community with the opportunity to write to elementary students in South Africa. Students on both continents are encouraged to talk about their family, friends, school and what life is like as a kid living in a big city. Students on the African side of the exchange each received their very own backpacks filled with school supplies.

The partnership began last year when LMU men's basketball and LMU Cares raised funds to send over 500 backpacks to students at Molalatladi Primary. In addition, enough funding was raised to expand the library and literacy center with educational resource materials and publications. This year LMU Cares was able to provide a wide variety of resource publications for the library and technology lab .

In the final week of April, the team delivered the return letters and knapsacks to the students at Jefferson. In March, Project Knapsack Founder, Porcha Dodson, visited Africa and facilitated the pen pal program in Soweto. The students each read their letters aloud and interviewed several of the players. The interviews were conducted by the fourth grade journalism students and published in their school newspaper, "Lennox Voices."

LMU Associate Head Coach Myke Scholl spearheaded the project and has helped bridge the gap between students in Los Angeles and on the continent of South Africa. California Pizza Kitchen `Cpk", from both the Manhattan Beach and Encino locations, supported this classroom initiative through their Incentive Awards program, recognizing students for their outstanding accomplishments.



CPK provided a lunch of pizza, barbecue chicken salad and French bread. Moving forward, LMU Cares and Men's basketball will continue their efforts to expand Project Knapsack's pen pal program in more classrooms throughout Los Angeles and continue to increase learning standards in South Africa.



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