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Cooperative effort sends books to Thailand

July 25, 2013 11:32 AM

By Fern Lee Hagedorn


What do Narrowsburg, New York, and Nakhon Pathom, Thailand have in common? Books!


Trinh Hagedorn had a request of his congregation, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Narrowsburg. Assigned as a volunteer English teacher in Thailand under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Church of Christ Thailand (CCT), Trinh’s students are children from kindergarten through sixth grades. Trinh asked for help from St. Paul’s to establish an English book section for the Sawang Wittaya Elementary School library as a way to help his students learn English.


Penelope Morgan-Lohr, branch manager of the local public library in Narrowsburg, heard about the project through Trinh’s mother, Fern Lee Hagedorn. "We love our local library and when Penelope asked how our family was doing, I told her about Trinh’s project," said Hagedorn. "Penelope immediately showed me several stacks of beautiful hard-covered children’s books which had been taken out of circulation." Morgan-Lohr offered the books to the school in Thailand.


Nakhon Pathom, the capital city of the province, is 8,700 miles from Narrowsburg; there was concern that given the distance they would have to travel, would the books arrive in good shape? And how much would this cost? The post office in Narrowsburg advised volunteers on the safest and most economical way to ship the books. A group of volunteers from St. Paul’s gathered to assemble the books into two large cartons. About 100 books, weighing over 80 pounds, were sent to Thailand through a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans-Hudson Valley Chapter.



Trinh Hagedorn (far right, glasses) and a colleague at Sawang Wittaya School in Thailand help their students show off the books shipped from Narrowsburg. 

"The Western Sullivan Public Library at Narrowsburg is thrilled to have played a part in the project," said branch manager Morgan-Lohr. "I am so happy that St. Paul’s approached us with the idea of sharing our bounty with others. We will think fondly of our Thai sisters and brothers and are totally fortunate for this opportunity. And this is only a start!"


"It is wonderful to have this cooperative effort between our local public library, Thrivent, and a small congregation like St. Paul’s to reach out to a school half-way across the globe," said Pastor Phyllis Haynes. "For me, it is a sign of faith active in the world in response to our baptismal call."


The books have arrived in Thailand. "They were packed so well that all of the books arrived in good shape," reports Trinh Hagedorn. "Thank you all so much for helping the children of the Sawang Wittaya School."




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