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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Doris Woffingden, a volunteer from Mothers Without Borders, thanks the children at the Kids Village school during an assembly on Wednesday.

OREM — Children at the private school Kids Village have made some new long-distance friends.

The students collected and donated 648 books for orphans in Zambia, Africa. The school is having a book drive at Barnes and Noble in Orem all next week, during which school officials expect to collect hundreds more books.

The students also sewed book bags with the help of parents, teachers and staff at Kids Village.

"One small person can make a difference in the world," said Kathy Jensen, Kids Village director.

Kids Village is a private school for preschool through fourth grade, at 1641 N. State, Orem.

Kids Village teacher Jenny Stubbs said her son Andy, 5, donated 100 of his books off his shelf after she told him the orphaned children in Africa don't have grandparents who give them books. "It's a great opportunity for him to learn about giving," Stubbs said. "And he'll get more books from us."

During a special assembly on Wednesday, Mothers Without Borders representatives talked to the students about the project. Mothers Without Borders is a nonprofit organization based in American Fork. Volunteers travel to Africa several times a year to provide shelter, food and education to the many orphans in Zambia.

Joyce Winterton, a Mothers Without Borders volunteer, told the students how a group of children in Africa have a "school" made from a chicken coop. It is four walls, with bricks on which the children sit. There are no crayons, paper or pencils. The teacher uses a black rock to write on the walls, then erases it with a broom.

"Can you imagine that?" Winterton said. "If the kids in Zambia could see this school, they would think they were in Disneyland."

Kids Village has a creative artsy architecture inside, including a giant fake tree in which the kids can play. Each classroom represents a talent a child has, such as art or science. All the students wear a red apron with their name on it for a school uniform.

Winterton continued, telling the students how orphans in Zambia live on the streets and rummage for food out of the garbage. "And these children have to walk a long way to school," she said, adding that the book bags will help them.

As a reward for their efforts, on Wednesday the students each received a cookie from Smart Cookie Co., located in American Fork and Provo. The children also received a free entrance certificate to see animals at Thanksgiving Point Farm Country.

For information on donating to the project, call Kids Village at 235-9999. For more information on Mothers Without Borders, visit www.motherswithoutborders.org.

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com