GILBERT, AZ – A Gilbert teen is continuing his work to help out children in Africa.
Beginning Thursday morning, every Gilbert Christian School [GCS] student will walk down an assembly line hand packing a backpack full of school supplies to send to a school they helped to build in Zambia Africa in 2007.
The backpacks are part of 15-year-old GCS sophomore Austin Gutwein’s Hoops of Hope program.
In January, students from GCS participated in Hoops of Hope and raised $12,000 to fund the backpacks as well as raised $2500 to help an orphanage devastated by the recent earthquake in Haiti.
Gutwein, a tireless crusader for the 12.5 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa will be returning to Africa with a couple GCS students in June to hand deliver the backpacks.
Gutwein, who was recently named one of the top 10 most caring Americans by the Caring Institute, founded Hoops of Hope six years ago while in the 5th grade at GCS.
What started at GCS has grown to the largest free-throw shooting marathon in the world, involving tens of thousands of kids globally.
In the past five years, Hoops of Hope has raised nearly $2 million, opened a high school, four dormitories and two medical clinics to help orphan children in Africa.
Austin, who will be present at the backpack build, says, “It’s neat to see your own school get behind something. It shows that our school isn’t just about us, but it’s about giving and helping others. We now have thousands of schools around the world doing Hoops of Hope, but none as special as GCS”.
In 2004, Austin was captivated by a World Vision video that told the story of a little girl named Maggie who lived in Zambia in Southern Africa.
She lost almost everyone she loved to the AIDS epidemic that ravaged the country, leaving nearly a million children orphaned.
“As I watched I just kept thinking about what it would be like if I lost my parents. I finally asked myself: What if this was me?” Austin writes in his book Take Your Best Shot.
Austin was changed forever, and he decided to do something about it. He used something he loved: basketball. His organization Hoops of Hope was born.
For more information visit hoopsofhope.org.