New Paper Bridges club seeks to help children in need around the world


photo courtesy of Amanda Azia

Members of the Paper Bridges club hold up their letters for their pen pals at their biweekly virtual meeting.

Ella Waldman, Reporter

At a Martin Luther King Day of Service event last year, junior Amanda Azia discovered Paper Bridges, a nonprofit organization.

Paper Bridges aims to support orphans, foster children and other vulnerable children around the world by providing emotional and educational support. When Azia learned that the organization had clubs all across the country, she realized what an important cause it was and started a chapter at JDS.

“I know we’re all really busy, and I think being able to spend even a few minutes of your day to make an impact in some else’s life is really important,” Azia said. 

To start the club, Azia had to talk to Interim High School Principal and Dean of Students Roslyn Landy about her goals and plans for the club, get a faculty advisor and recruit people to join the club. She also met with the founders of the organization itself in order to start the chapter at JDS. 

Although the club has just started, it already has multiple projects and plans for the future. Currently, their main project is their pen pals with the Kids of Africa Orphanage in Uganda. Each member was assigned a pen pal from the orphanage and wrote them a letter asking them questions and introducing themselves. 

Freshman Anna Leinwand especially loves the letter-writing project because she can spend time with other kids while also making a positive difference.

“The kids are in orphanages, and I felt bad that they don’t really have a family,” Leinwand said. “I just thought it was important to try to build a relationship so that it’s like another person they can talk to and become friends with.” 

Additionally, the club has a general letter writing project where members send letters but do not get a response. In the future, members are also planning on making care packages filled with donated toiletries and other necessities. 

Another project that the broader Paper Bridges organization is working on is a fundraiser to send face masks to vulnerable children around the world without access to personal protection equipment. Azia has been working with other Maryland chapters to raise money for this fundraiser in order to cover shipping costs. 

“COVID-19 has definitely affected how foster centers and vulnerable children are [impacted] especially because something that most people take for granted, and our privilege, is that we have access to masks, and we have access to all of this personal protective equipment, and that they don’t,” Azia said. 

Members of the club are already beginning to appreciate the difference that they are making and are looking forward to future initiatives that will help more children in need. Leinwand recommends joining the club not only to earn community service hours, but also for the experience of helping others facing hardship. 

“It’s just a good way to have another friend and help someone else who might not have so many people to talk to,” Leinwand said.