Imagine sending a 40-foot shipping container filled with tangible donations such as food, clothing and toiletries to some very needy orphans in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa.
To Fanny Martinez this dream is becoming reality.
It is called The Gift of Giving Project.
Resplendent in black and white shirt, dark pants and black shoes, the 37-year-old Martinez sits at a table at the on this first Saturday in March and waxes philosophical on the future.
"I and my group of students from North Hollywood High School," stresses Martinez, the project coordinator, "are bringing awareness of how to build communities by using shipping containers."
"The people," Martinez points out, "we are sending the shipping containers to are using them to build a medical facility, library and orphanage."
This is more than a humanitarian mission for Martinez, who was born in the Dominican Republic.
"I am trying," Martinez says, "to convert youth in the USA into humanitarians to the rest of the world. Youth helping youth."
Martinez has traveled to spread her message.
"I‘ve been on this mission for two years," Martinez admits, "and I’ve spoken to politicians in Washington D.C. and seen the horrible, heart-breaking poverty in Haiti, and just thought and felt something had to be done."
"Containers," Martinez offers, "are at every port in every country by the thousands just sitting there... it gets frustrating."
Martinez wants the local men in Kenya to be trained in how to use a container.
"You can build," Martinez says, "a single family home out of a 40-foot container."
This "Gift of Giving" campaign has become a North Hollywood community project.
A fund raiser at North Hollywood High School takes place on Saturday, March 24 from 3-7 p.m.
Spreading awareness is getting easier according to 18-year-old Kimberly Garcia, a senior at .
"Raising awareness," says Garcia, who is sitting behind Martinez at the market, "is sometimes hard, but it’s starting to get easier once (the students) know the details."
Eighteen-year-old Rudy De Leon just wants to get everyone involved.
"The kids," De Leon says, "have it rough in Kenya...we want to get them better (equipment)."
Sixteen-year-old Junior Alex Hernandez says that people in the United States have it better than (in Kenya).
"We need people to know," Hernandez reinforces, "that here people have it better than there...with the kids putting-in a small amount of effort they can help...how fortunate we are to have the basic necessities...I thought it was a great chance to get involved...I think it’s important that (the students) know that there are other things going-on in the world...the kids think that they wake-up, go to school, have a nice supper and go to sleep...they don’t realize how good they have it."
Hernandez says that the project will be an annual event.
"It will be an annual thing that when juniors become seniors they can help... the idea is to let (the people in Kenya) know that there are people who feel for them and that they can feel they’re not alone, that we can help them."
Eighteen-year-old Ernest Martinez echoes the words of his mother.
"We," the younger Martinez says, "will do what we can."
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