OK, pen lovers, how would you like to help put some pens into the hands of kids?
Many of you have heard of an organization called Pens for Kids that collects pens, pencils and other school supplies for shipment to children in Africa. It operates in Denmark, the US and, as of about three years ago, the UK.
We recently reached out to volunteer Malcolm O'Brien, who started and coordinates Pens for Kids UK, to see how the organization is doing and what kind of help they might need.
This is what he told us: Pens aren't the problem right now. An Irish business that was closing had loads of branded pens that were no longer needed and agreed to give them to Pens for Kids. The charity paid for the pens to be shipped from Ireland to the UK, and now have 220,000 pens sitting in storage, waiting to go to Africa.
The charity just doesn't have the funds to send them.
We've shipped pens from the UK to 8 different countries this year, but it does seem that the recession is hitting hard and donations have been noticeably smaller this year than in previous ones, Malcolm said.
It would be such a waste for those pens to remain in storage instead of getting to the children who could use them.
If you'd like to help, you can donate directly to Pens for Kids UK through the website (look for the PayPal 'donate' link at the bottom of the page), or you can buy packs of postcards featuring exotic wildlife at 10 for £2.50. There are other ways to help, as well, and you can even send packages of pens directly to Pens for Kids ambassadors in Africa.
(If you send pens, Malcolm suggested that you clearly mark the package 'Pens for Kids' as that can sometimes avoid import fees.)