The Courier tried something different in early December, sending one of its own on a little road trip. Armed with his camera and a notebook, Dennis Magee followed organizers and others who support the Shoebox Project to Nicaragua.

Steve Thorpe of Denver, a member of the Waterloo Downtown Rotary Club, and his wife, Liz, launched the effort in 2001 and made their first shipment in 2002. The central idea is to encourage families living near the dump in Chinandega and mired in extreme poverty to get their kids in school. 

Why parents might resist ensuring their children get an education may seem like a foreign and illogical concept to Iowans. But as one organizer explained, poor people must work, and every pair of hands scavenging through other people's garbage increases the odds of finding items of possible value.

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