Auburn study abroad students collecting supplies to benefit South African school


Auburn University students bound for the new study abroad experience in Port
Alfred, South Africa, this summer say they hope to make the journey with a large
collection of school supplies to benefit an educational program outside


Three students and
Martin O'Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality
Management in the College of Human Sciences, are piloting the new study abroad
program and have already delivered an initial collection of backpacks and other
school supplies to the Teboho Trust in Soweto.


The 10 students
traveling to Port Alfred this summer already have started collecting more
supplies, specifically flash cards, markers, colored construction paper and
scissors. The fundraising efforts are being led by Eta Sigma Delta, the national
hospitality honor society, and the Hotel and Restaurant Management program's
Student Advisory Board.


“I had never heard
of the Teboho Trust before, but then Dr. O'Neill showed me pictures and videos
of the kids,” said Lauren Long, student advisory board president and Eta Sigma
Delta member. “They were the happiest kids, but basically had no supplies in
their classrooms. He told us that they had to reuse their notebook paper because
they had so few supplies. Little things, like paper and pencils, could make a
huge difference to these kids.”


Long unfortunately
won't get to help deliver the supplies this summer since she graduates in May.
Nicole Sanchez, who was instrumental in the backpack collection drive, is
overjoyed to not only spend nine weeks studying hospitality in South Africa, but
also to witness the influence the Auburn Family has on the


“It was so great to
be a part of the drive and see the generosity of our students and of the
faculty,” said Sanchez. “Seeing our supplies grow and grow over the course of
the semester was incredible and the picture that Dr. O'Neill sent from South
Africa when the supplies were delivered reaffirmed that we had done something
that was really going to help.


“We have received
resounding thanks from the Teboho Trust and we hope to continue to send items to
South Africa with my group and those to follow.”


Teboho Trust was
created in 2001 by American attorney Jose Bright. Teboho, roughly translated in
the Sesotho language of South Africa, means “Thank you God for giving us this
person … this gift,” is an educational support system for at-risk, orphan and
vulnerable children and adolescents, ages 4 to 18. Programs include personal
empowerment, social development, educational support, economic development and


Administrators in
the College of Human Sciences learned about Teboho last summer when they were
traveling to Port Alfred to discuss a study abroad agreement with Stenden
University. A stop in Soweto, a neighborhood about 20 miles west of
Johannesburg, netted an encounter with Bright, who was so inspired by Nelson
Mandela's call to action, he moved to South Africa more than two decades


O'Neill said he
noticed the need for basic school supplies in observing Teboho's Saturday
Academy, and upon his return to Auburn, enlisted students in the Hotel and
Restaurant Management program in collection efforts.


“We intend to
deliver supplies with each visiting student group as we move forward,” he


Donations of school
supplies can be made at 328 Spidle Hall during normal business hours. Questions
should be directed to Lauren Long at



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