Christy Reasoner (center) is surrounded by a group of new friends she met during a trip to South Africa. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:28AM
In a school where giving back to the community is part of learning, fourth-grader Katie Reasoner did more than most.
With fellow Kouts Elementary School students, she helped gather enough school supplies to fill seven 50-pound bags that she delivered personally to students in Hamanskrall Township, South Africa.
The Kouts donations amounted to about half of what the mission took on its October trip, which was also Reasoner’s first time out of the country.
“They were really, really happy,” she said of the students at Jabulane Academy, affiliated with a Bethesda ministries orphanage.
Reasoner got involved with
the school supplies drive in September through Calvary Church
After suggesting to Kouts’ after-school Bible Club that they gather things like crayons, construction paper and even toothbrushes, she asked Principal Patti Eich to make it schoolwide.
Eich said that in her six years as principal at Kouts Elementary, this was the first time a student created an event like this.
“It’s exciting to see somebody so young be so selfless,” Eich said.
Reasoner’s father, Josh Reasoner, said his daughter went on what was his third trip to the orphanage because “We wanted Kaitlyn to experience life outside herself and outside of Porter County ... to help open her eyes to people in need and to give her a chance to dream about what could be.”
Her favorite parts were the safari animals and playing with the students, about half of which are orphaned, and she found the “hippo crossing” signs funny.
She said she was surprised that not all people in Africa were poor, although many live in cardboard and tin shacks, and much of it was similar to home, including children playing soccer.
Although orphanage children are used to older missionaries, her braces fascinated some, and children outside the orphanage wanted to touch her blonde hair.
Most of the orphans lost parents to AIDS, and she heard stories of a mother trying to sell a child and a baby dying while being carried on its mother’s back to a doctor.
Reasoner said, “I learned that sometimes we have a little too much here as compared to there.”
She also learned that people could feel joy without having a lot and without having parents.
And she wants to go back, she said.