Fourth-grader holds collection drive for Mission of Hope

SARANAC - When the Saranac Teachers Association sponsored a "Jeans for Teens" drive last November, Jacob Islas was inspired.

The Saranac Elementary School fourth-grader, motivated by the community effort, began thinking of ways he could help others. Then, through the encouragement of his mother, Janice Islas, Jacob developed a plan to help the North Country Mission of Hope. Jacob's mother and aunt are supporters of the nonprofit organization, which has worked to build shelters, distribute food and provide clean water to Nicaragua, which was devastated by Hurricane Mitch more than 10 years ago. Jacob collected several new and used items throughout the month of January to help North Country Mission of Hope's ongoing relief effort, gaining the support of his school and community.

"We collected clothes, school supplies, toys, stuffed animals, story books," said Jacob, who added he was "happy" and "excited" at the collection drive's overwhelming response.

When the collection drive was over, the real work of organizing everything began.

"We had to separate them and write everything all down on papers and put them on the boxes," said Jacob, adding he had to use his aunt's garage to have enough room for the donations.

"I'm very proud of him," said Jacob's mother. "It was all his idea to do this. He's always been very thoughtful, thinking of others, helping others."

Jacob's teacher, Lisa Napper, said she's also proud of efforts like Jacob's in helping others. The value of community service is something Napper said she strives to instill in her students and is something she sees is already of importance to students like Jacob.

"It is so exciting to see young people want to give back to the community and reach out to others," said Napper. "Making students realize the value of giving and how it makes them feel is a life-long skill that I hope follows with them through out their life."

The collection drive, said Jacob, wouldn't have been possible without the support of his family, fellow students and teachers at Saranac Elementary.

"Thank you," said Jacob.

The donations will now be taken to the North Country Mission of Hope headquarters in Plattsburgh for transportation to Nicaragua.

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