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War on illiteracy by soldiers unleashes unique weapon

LUCENA CITY—Soldiers are waging war on illiteracy with the use of a unique weapon—shoe boxes.

The Southern Luzon Command on Feb. 29 launched “Project Shoebox” which seeks to send basic school supplies to children in some of the remotest areas of Southern Luzon.

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The project was launched at the Solcom camp here and involves the collection of shoe boxes to be filled with notebooks, pads, pencils, crayons, erasers, slippers and books.

Lt. Col. Thomas Sedano Jr., head of the Army’s 14th Light Armor Battalion, said poor children in remote areas have no access to education tools.

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Volunteers from several groups, like the Sigma Alpha Sorority at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, would distribute the shoe boxes before the opening of the next school year to Grade 1 pupils in remote schools in the island provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Quezon, Camarines Norte and Masbate.

Estela Loverez, head of the Alpha Phi Omega-Alumni Association of Chi Chapter based here, expressed support for the project.

A project flyer said shoe boxes are ideal storage containers for the school supplies because they can withstand transport through some of the worst roads in the country.

Sedano said he borrowed the concept from a project carried out in the military school in the United States that he attended in 2007. A Protestant, Sedano said he was introduced to the idea while at one religious service during which shoe boxes were collected then filled with school supplies and medicines and sent to children in Africa.

Sedano said in the Philippines, Project Shoebox was an idea that cropped up at medical missions when the Sigma Alpha Sorority donated notebooks and other school supplies that needed containers.

Sedano urged private firms, Good Samaritans, government offices, community and other groups to help soldiers by donating shoe boxes and school supplies.

“Our partners can adopt their chosen school and tie up with us,” said Sedano.

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He said donors could also write their addresses in the box so beneficiaries and their parents could thank them later.

“Who knows, the gesture would help continue their ties,” he said.

He said soldiers “want poor students in the countryside to know and feel that there are lots of people who care for them.”

The project has so far collected more than 200 shoe boxes.

Donors could bring their donations to the 4th Light Armor Battalion headquarters in Camp Nakar. The project sponsors could also be contacted through mobile phone numbers 0932-4143294, 0947-8387846 and e-mail address: armor_masigasig@yahoo.com.

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TAGS: “Project Shoebox”, Filipino soldiers, illiteracy, Sigma Alpha Sorority, Southern Luzon Command
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