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Reaching out to Haiti: Students, school staff raise money

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| February 15, 2010 11:00 PM

One month after a magnitude-7 earthquake killed more than 200,000 Haitians, students and staff at Libby and Troy schools have raised over $2,500 from bake sales and penny drives to help the devastated country.

Fifth-grader Andrea Faris emptied out her piggy bank for Libby Middle School’s penny drive, which raised $533.29. She wasn’t using the money, she said, and knew that other people would benefit from it. 

“They (pennies) just sit there,” Faris said. “I thought it would go to a good cause.”

The fourth- through eighth-grade classes raised $383.64 almost entirely in pennies and the staff chipped in an additional $149.65. The donations went toward Doctors Without Borders’ Haiti effort, which is providing medical care for survivors.

Asa Wood Elementary School student leaders recently pulled a red wagon full of coins to Glacier Bank, cashing in $390.30 to benefit the American Red Cross’s effort in Haiti.

W.F. Morrison Elementary School and Troy High School students collectively raised about $350 in fundraisers.

THS students Allison Hight and Sara Helmrick approached their Foreign Language Club adviser, Andrea Chiaverini, about what they could do for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Chiaverini suggested a bake sale, so the Foreign Language Club partnered with the International Affairs Club to bake and sell an entire lunch table filled with cookies, brownies, cakes and pies.

“They organized and ran the whole thing,” Chiaverini said. “I’m glad the kids think globally.”

The bake sale was extended to a second day when so much food was left over. Hight and Helmrick used their teacher’s aide block period before lunch to bake in the food room and to prepare for the sale.

“We felt like helping out and doing a good thing,” Helmrick said.

The bake sale yielded $117, and students and staff pitched in additional donations, bringing the school’s total Haiti fund to over $200. Chiaverini chose to donate to the United Methodist Committee of Relief because, she said, it would use 100 percent of the money for relief in Haiti, not on the organization’s overhead expenses.

Students in W.F. Morrison’s after-school program earned $139 in a bake sale that will also go to Haiti. The students had been conducting bake sales twice a month to raise scholarships for the after-school ski program and decided to donate one day’s worth of proceeds to Haiti.

“They had been raising it for skiing,” said after-school program director Ralph Stever, “but they decided that they wanted to send that portion of it to Haiti instead.”

Libby High School and Central High School staff may not have known what they were getting into when they promised to match student donations in a week-long fundraiser that concluded Friday. Students raised $670.92, including over $250 collected from fans during a basketball game. Staff members from the two schools were good on their word, bringing the total donation up to $1,341.84.

The money will go toward the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which will first provide immediate needs such as food, water, shelter and first-aid supplies, and later go toward rebuilding infrastructure.

Social studies teachers initiated the fundraiser and were pleased with student involvement. Teacher Jeff Gruber pointed out that the money raised in the schools didn’t just serve the earthquake victims of Haiti.

“What’s almost just as important is these kids reflecting on their condition and their ability to give to those less fortunate,” Gruber said. “That’s charity.”