Lex Zollo, of Teenagers Inc. in Chestnut Hill, is seen during last year’s trip to Guatemala laying one brick at a time with hand-mixed cement to hold it all together!

by Liu Volpe

This summer, the Chestnut Hill nonprofit TeenagersInc. will return to Guatemala for the fifth time, taking more volunteers than ever before.

Each year volunteers fill 50-pound suitcases with important items such as dental care products, medical aid and work tools. These items go directly to stock the storehouse of the God’s Child Project, the organization that TeenagersInc. collaborates with and works under. From the store room, the Teenagers Inc. donations are distributed to and provide much-needed support to local families and individuals.

Last year Olivia Dell’Angelo, a current third-grader at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCHA) whose mother is on the Chestnut Hill Community Association board, became involved in the Teenagers Inc. collection for Guatemala. She identified a specific subgroup within the Guatemalan population that she felt passionate about serving, young children and infants.

Driven by her concern for Guatemala’s young children and infants and empowered by determination, Dell’Angelo devised her own service campaign, “Bottles for Babies.” She began working with me (I am currently a graduating senior at SCHA), and Bottles for Babies became a working operation.

Today, Bottles for Babies continues to be a donation drive run by and managed by Dell’Angelo and me that specifically accepts items for children and childcare. The donations that Bottles for Babies collects feeds into the larger and more general Teenagers Inc. donation drive. In this way Bottles for Babies, being separate and specific in its accepted items, accomplishes Olivia’s aims to gather more childcare and children’s donations.

In the past, Teenagers Inc. has received donations from churches, schools and individuals. The items that Teenagers Inc. collects are critical to the wellness and livelihood of the families and individuals that receive aid from the God’s Child Project. Last year’s collection for Bottles for Babies was a large success, but it was only limited to the SCHA community. This year Dell’Angelo extended the collection to the entire Chestnut Hill community in order to increase the success of the donation drive.

The success of Bottles for Babies can have a particularly significant effect on the families who receive aid from the God’s Child Project. Since Guatemala is a developing nation, the majority of the population is young, with 37.4 percent of the population being under 14 years of age. Thus, Bottles for Babies is a campaign that strives to meet the needs of a large and underserved percentage of the population of Guatemala.

So please donate to Bottles for Babies and to the Teenagers Inc collection! We are hoping to collect school supplies, art supplies, sports equipment, toiletries, over-the-counter medications, building tools, baby supplies, children’s clothing, shoes, ponchos, etc. We are requesting that donors drop off these items at the Teenagers Inc. Center on Fridays between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. at 105 Bethlehem Pike in Chestnut Hill.

For more information, contact Marianne Dwyer, founder and head of Teenagers Inc., at 215-242-4976 or Director@teensincphilly.org

More information about Teenagers Inc. at teensincphilly.org or on their Facebook page.

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