I met Katelyn Braithwaite in September 2012 at the library, where she had two collection boxes. One was for school supplies and the other for children’s books. Impressed with her ambition and curious about the results of her efforts, I needed to find out what would drive such a young girl to do such big things. I discovered that great examples and determination played a major role in her accomplishments.
The books Braithwaite had in the book box will benefit an orphanage in Accra, Ghana. She stated enthusiastically, “I collected a total of 600 books!”
Almost 100 of the books came from Morgan High School students and the remainder were collected at a Kaysville grocery store called Bohman’s, where Braithwaite’s sister worked.
The biggest donations came from two generous shoppers. These shoppers were teachers who needed to clear some older children’s books out of their classrooms. “This was such a great blessing!” described Braithwaite of the book drive.
Knowing there was a need for better hygiene in Ghana, she asked the North Morgan Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for help. As word got out to the wards, needed items were collected and organized by the young women and their leaders. About 130 kits were assembled with items such as: shampoo, soap, lotion, washcloths, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
The hygiene kits and books were shipped out in April along with medical supplies, cribs, food and clothing. Just before the items were shipped, Enterprise resident Tim Hoogasian surprised Braithwaite with the donation of a well drill. She was thrilled to include this much needed donation in her shipment.
Braithwaite just completed her junior year at Morgan High School. She left for Ghana June 13 to deliver the books and hygiene kits. She also will be reading to the children and helping with clinicals in the orphanage. She will be there for 10 days.
Her father’s cousin, Dr. Jason Nelson, has made trips to West Africa for the past couple years along with a medical team of doctors, nurses and volunteers.
The inspiration for Braithwaite’s participation in this service project came from her sister, Samantha. In April 2012, Samantha went to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to bring donations and a helping hand to a cancer shelter. She described the shelter as a place where families of cancer patients as well as other patients stay to be near while their loved ones are receiving treatments or having surgeries. Donations included clothes, 50 school kit bags and money to purchase food and paint.
Katelyn is the daughter of Russ and Beth Braithwaite of Peterson. She has two older sisters, an older brother, and a younger brother. From 2005 to 2008, Braithwaite and her family lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while her father worked with the LDS Church’s Finance Department. The children also attended the schools there. Knowing the area and wanting to return to help, Samantha started her service project.
Samantha’s experience helped Katelyn with organizing and preparing for this experience. She applied for a visa and received it; updated her immunizations; and sprayed the clothing with insect repellent to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. Braithwaite purchased most of the clothing she will be taking with her from Deseret Industries and she plans on leaving the items at the orphanage.
The box designated for school supplies was for Staples for Students. She collected 30 school supply items. Since this project was not her main focus, she didn’t put as much time and effort into it but was still pleased with the outcome.
Upon her return, she plans on working the rest the summer, then returning to Morgan High this fall as a senior. Good luck, Katelyn.