News Release

American Eagle Scout Exchanges Toy Cars For African Smiles and Hugs

Knowing that children throughout the world love toys, a toy workshop sprang into action earlier this year when for his Eagle project, Lewis Gardner decided to make wooden toy cars for children in African orphanages.

The idea formulated when the Gardner family learned that their son’s second grade teacher was planning a trip to Africa during the summer and could personally deliver the cars.

In July, Renee Casperson set out to accomplish the mission of personally giving a toy car to 100 children.  She has been an elementary teacher for 28 years and loves children, but this assignment was one of the most emotional experiences she has enjoyed with children.

Renee’s first stop was at an orphanage in Jinja.  This facility cares for 27 children between the ages of 1 and 11.  Eleven of the children have disabilities.  Its founder and director, Sharon, grew up in an orphanage and wanted to give back to her country as well as help the children of Uganda.  Appreciation for the gift was demonstrated most tenderly by David, age 5, who hugged his car tight to his chest.  

Next she made a stop at a children’s hospital and visited the children in a mal-nutrition ward.  Children admitted here are often hospitalized for several months.  Their smiles were thanks enough for Renee as she personally handed each patient a car.

The final stop was at an orphanage for 31 children that is run by a couple, Deedra and Joseph.   Their goal is to personally adopt every child they take in as they want each child to have the opportunity to grow up in a family.  The children in the home were all taken in when they were babies or infants.  Squeals and laughter filled the large home as the children lined up the benches from the kitchen tables and created a track where they could race the cars.

Renee came to Africa with her sister to visit their brother and his wife who serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Uganda Kampala Mission.  It was a heartwarming experience for everyone as wooden toy cars were exchanged for smiles and hugs.   

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