Rotary Club of Grand Bend
Global Literacy Project Q & A

What is it?  This initiative sees unneeded school supplies from schools being closed in SW Ontario such as desks, chairs, blackboards, sports equipment and musical instruments shipped to South Africa where they are distributed to rural schools that have next to nothing.  Other countries have received containers as well.
Who pays for it?  Each 40-foot sea container costs about $6500 CDN to ship to Durban, South Africa. Once in Durban, the Rotary Club of Middelburg, South Africa and their donors pay the shipping costs to distribute the goods to rural schools there. Funds come from Grand Bend Rotary and other participating Rotary Clubs and individuals who sponsor all or part of a shipment.
What’s in a container?  Container contents depend on what’s available but often include 250 student desks and chairs, 20 teacher’s desks , 20 file cabinets, coat racks, 50 computers, 60 children’s work tables and stacking chairs, sports equipment for volleyball, soccer and baseball, medical supplies, 5 wheelchairs, 60 crutches, 350 crocheted mats made from milk bags and 18,600 textbooks, reading and reference books. Sometimes dried soup mix is included.
Who benefits?  Over 50,000 students in South Africa have received books and supplies. Medical supplies have been distributed to area clinics. Sixty libraries have been stocked and 100,000 nutritious meals of soup from Ontario Christian Gleaners have helped students get through the day. 
How long will this project continue?  The project will continue as long as funding is available and schools are being closed in our area. 
How often are containers shipped?  The shipping of containers depends on the availability of supplies but usually and more importantly the availability of funding. We are always in need of additional funding and more containers could be shipped if more funding was available.
Who loads the container?  Containers are loaded by trained and untrained volunteers. It’s quite a challenge to pack the maximum amount of school supplies into a container. We try to leave no space empty. We rely on Rotary members and interested volunteers from the community who have come out to assist in the project. To be added to the mailing list and notified when volunteers are needed please email Brian Hall:  or call 519-238-6116. 
Will you ship a container to other countries?  At present our partnership with the Rotary Club of Middelburg, South Africa makes it very easy for us to ship containers there. They pay for the shipping on their end, provide assistance with customs clearance and look after all the distribution to make sure that the supplies are put to best use. While we would be happy to ship to other countries, we need to have a Rotary Club partner on the ground there that can provide a similar function in looking after the distribution. 
Do the school boards help pay for any of the containers?  To date we’ve not received any money from any of the school boards in spite of the fact that we’ve saved them significant costs in taking away the unneeded supplies. The Foundation for Education Perth Huron, which supports the Avon Maitland District School Board, has been very generous in assisting us with promotion, tax receipts and fundraising.  Most all of our supplies and equipment comes from school boards.
I have books to donate, will you take them?  We’re happy to receive books of all types in fair and better condition which would be useful to elementary and secondary school children. Adult books are also welcome but must be separated and marked ADULT. Please contact us at the numbers below to see how best to get them to us. If possible, bring them when you come out to help load a container. 
You mentioned pianos and other musical instruments.  We’re happy to receive all types of musical instruments. Naturally, pianos can pose a logistical problem. We will only accept pianos that are in good working condition (sounding board undamaged). Each piano costs over $200 in freight to ship to Africa. We request that a donation of that amount be made to cover the cost. You will need to contact us to see where it can be loaded and get it to that location. Our suggestion for pianos or organs that don’t meet these criteria is to sell the unit and consider donating the proceeds to our cause. Please consider the cost of disposal or moving these units and donate the moving cost towards container shipping. 
Are there other items needed? Although our primary purpose is to facilitate literacy and provide school supplies, we will send other items when space exists. Here is a list of valuable additions to a container
  • Sporting goods especially soccer equipment
  • Shelving for books (collapsible if possible)
  • Knitting supplies including wool and patterns
  • Sewing machines (especially hand crank or treadle) and material
  • Musical Instruments and sheet music (especially keyboards)
  • Crutches, walkers and medical supplies
  • Milk Bag mats
  • Hand tools
  • Children’s bicycles (pedals need to be removed and attached)
Are there things you can’t accept? Clothing of any kind cannot be put in a container.
Can I get a tax receipt for any donation I make?  Tax receipts are available either by sending a cheque made out to the Foundation for Education Perth Huron 62 Chalk Street North, Seaforth, Ontario N0K 1W0 or online through or by pasting this link to a browser
What about sponsorship of containers?  We’ve had several individual Rotary Clubs sponsor containers coming from schools that are closed in their area. Stratford, Ingersoll, Goderich, Woodstock, Sarnia  and London East Rotary Clubs have sponsored containers with great success. We are interested in talking with corporate sponsors who might see this as a great ongoing project to showcase their company’s international commitment. Please contact Brian Hall at 519-238-6116 or     
How do I get more Information or get involved as a volunteer? Please contact Brian Hall at
519-238-6116 or or Peter Twynstra at 519-293-3998
Updated Feb 2019