By Linda Gilbert
The Shelburne News
January 17, 2008

CHARLOTTE – Jan. 19 through Feb. 9, many of your neighbors will not be shoveling snow, skiing or wearing scarves to keep them warm. They will, however, be doing another type of work that will keep them very warm….in Tela, Honduras…shoveling sand, carrying cement blocks, providing medical clinics, physical and occupational therapy to children, conducting fire and rescue training, constructing playgrounds, building school classrooms, painting schools and starting a Soccer for Tela Kids Program.

The volunteer team of 70 people will spend one, two, or three weeks in Tela, Honduras with the Vermont Hands to Honduras-Tela Program. Your neighbors from Shelburne (14), Charlotte (14), Hinesburg, Burlington, Vergennes, Williston, Essex, Middlebury, Barre, Bristol, Montpelier, Lincoln, and Underhill Center are part of this exciting team. Out-of-state volunteers are from Maine, Maryland and Alabama.

Three volunteers from Williston have not only donated all the equipment for a playground for the children of Tela, but they have also donated their time to travel to Tela to install the Mayor’s Playground.

Doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, town officials, administrators, builders, and people from many different walks of life and of many different ages, (from age eight-and-a-half to 77 years old), make up the team. There are a number of children joining this trip; they are particularly lucky to have this opportunity to see a different part of the world and way of life at a young age. The ageless desire of all the volunteers is simple and shared – to help the Honduran children have a better life.

Is there a soccer ball left in Chittenden County? You would not think so now, after a plea was made for donations of soccer balls. Our community was overwhelming in their generous response!

Volunteers will also sort and distribute the contents of a 40-foot container that was shipped from Vermont on Jan. 3. It was completely filled with medical equipment, school supplies, wheelchairs, a complete playground, soccer equipment, tools, clothing, and toys. It is also filled with 35 “baby joggers”. Last spring, the “Baby Jogger Project” was initiated. This project was started when the Vermont physical therapists witnessed that many of the Honduran families have to carry their children for miles to get treatment at the Rehab Therapies Center – the facility built by the Vermont-Hands to Honduras-Teal Program in 2006 and 2007. Many families are poor and have no transportation. A baby jogger can be a godsend for the special needs children and their families. The joggers have a wide base, three big wheels that make it easy to maneuver on dirt roads, and they have cushioning that supports children well. Throughout the summer and fall, Vermont- Hands- to-Honduras-Tela volunteers collected more than 35 baby joggers – unstintingly donated by local families.

Preparations for this trip have been in the works for the past year and the success is only possible with the generous support of our community.