LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It is fair to say that Heidi Thompson, a STEM teacher at Lexington's Squires Elementary, has a heart for kids.
"It was a second career after I had my kids and saw what a difference teachers made in their lives," Thompson said of becoming an educator.
She never imagined she would be helping children a world away, but after a visit to her brother-in-law's school in the Republic of Congo, that is exactly what she's doing.
Thompson said, "They don't have a playground...it's just dirt. They have about 50 kids to each classroom."
After meeting the children, she felt compelled to give those kids a little piece of what her students in America enjoy.
"I was just so surprised. They don't even have the basic things that they need," Thompson said of the school in Africa. "He said what they really needed was backpacks. They didn't have anything to carry their things in."
She started a small fundraiser, and thanks to people in Kentucky, she quickly had money for 260 brand new backpacks. In May, she was there to see their reactions.
"They were so excited!"
After that experience, Thompson created an organization called Share With Congo. Now she is getting ready for her next big delivery: soccer balls.
"Soccer is their favorite sport over there. I didn't tell them I was getting them because I didn't want to promise something I couldn't do," said Thompson.
Once again, she was surprised by the willingness of others to give. Soon she will ship off enough soccer balls for each of the 12 classes to have two apiece.
Despite her efforts, Thompson knows the needs at the school are still great. She wants to help supply white boards and technology improvements, and through her giving heart and the generosity of others it is her hope those needs will be met.
"I just wanted to give them a little piece of happiness. A little something new they can just hold on to say there is hope, there are people who care about them in different parts of the world."
To get in touch with Heidi Thompson regarding Share With Congo, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org