Showing the spirit of northwest Kansas

6/29/2012

I got to see the incredible spirit of the people of northwest Kansas. During the last four months, I've been lucky to be part of the 2012 class of Leadership Hays.

Twenty-seven of us honed our leadership skills and fundraised to help support children's art education. Our employers, the members of our class, the Kansas Leadership Center, the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of people in the area contributed to the effort.

We were proud to present Brenda Meder and members of the Hays Arts Council board with a check for more than $11,000. That's not a testament to us as a class as much as it is a statement of the generosity of this community.

I'd be remiss if I didn't provide another possible outlet for that spirit.

If you read this space regularly, you'll know my wife and I will return sometime in the next few months to Ethiopia as we complete the adoption of our daughter. The orphanage we are getting our daughter from is a good place, one that cares for dozens of kids at once, many of whom are still waiting to be matched with their forever families.

While we were there the first time, we noticed the needs of the orphanage and asked for a list of supplies. We're taking some donations ourselves when we return, but the outpouring of support and good wishes we got leads me to think you all might like to help out as well.

The great folks at The Hays Daily News have agreed to serve as a collection center.

If you'd like to help out, I've included a list here; feel free to drop them by the newspaper beginning next week. The orphanage needs the following:

* Baby bottles and clear nipples

* Cloth diapers

* Diaper rash cream

* Scrubs for nannies

* General school supplies (paper, pencils, erasers, crayons)

* Books for young children

* Children's ibuprofen

* Antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointment

* Bandages

* Children's vitamins (especially vitamin D)

* Flip-flop sandals for nannies

* Sheets and blankets

These orphanages are a lifeline for infertile families wanting to grow. And they're in need. There are wonderful folks whose full-time job is taking care of these lovely kids, both those waiting to go home and those with less certain futures.

If you'd like to help, it'd be another shining example of the spirit of northwest Kansas.

Chapman Rackaway is an associate professor of political science at Fort Hays State University.

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