By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than five-million children are out of school in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as the countries continue to fight the deadly Ebola virus. So a South Jersey group is working to help thousands of these students.

“This is important for after Ebola that the students know this is going to end,” says Lesa Givens, co-founder of Faith Seeder Ministries in Sewell, New Jersey.

Born and raised in Liberia, she says the schools in her home country, already devastated by civil war, have been closed in Liberia since July.

“The kids are doing nothing,” Givens says. “They’re just sitting at home or in their yards.”

So the teacher and her partners, including co-founder, Evette Fearon, are collecting backpacks and school supplies to send to Liberia.

“Most people in their homes do not have electricity,” says Fearon, who traveled to Liberia in recent years and visited schools still showing evidence of the war. “There are bombed out buildings that were never restored all around you.”

The duo says the goal of Education Backpack Liberia is to send 2500 backpacks filled with supplies to out of school children. So far, they’re at 850.

Hundreds of backpacks fill in Givens' basement. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

Hundreds of backpacks fill in Givens’ basement. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

“We have notebooks, we have coloring pencils, we have crayons and erasers,” Fearon says.

They’re sending workbooks and more to give hope.

“We may not be able to reach every child, all 1.4 million of them, but they will see this backpack and see a book and feel happy about something,” says Givens. “Even if they can’t read, they can look in that book and be encouraged.”

Faith Seeder is collecting backpacks and supplies through the end of December. They’re also collecting money to pay for shipping.

“We’ve emailed every friend and every connection that we have and we’re hoping every does the same,” says Fearon. “Schools can help, libraries can help, and we are bathing this in prayer. When we think about their faces, our hearts our open.”

Click here for more details on how you can help: 

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