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Schools Open Their Hearts for Haiti

By Ankita Rao

Homerooms and hallways transformed last week as schools united to help the rubble-filled streets of Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Led by teachers and administrators, students across the country held fundraisers to donate money to organizations providing aid.

Sarah Sampson, a ninth-grade civics teacher in Minnesota, said her students created posters, commercials and announcements to raise funds for the Red Cross. Their goal was to raise at least a dollar per student at Hopkins North Junior High School.

Haiti’s earthquake also gave her an opportunity to teach her classes about the island nation and its infrastructure. Sampson and her students discussed how a government reacts to disaster – including a comparison with Hurricane Katrina and earthquakes in California.

“We’ve learned more about Haiti and how their government has or has not worked,” Sampson said.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, some schools have created themed fundraisers for Haiti.

The Puritas Community School in Cleveland, Ohio organized “Healing Hearts for Haiti” – a way for students to be Valentines for children in Haiti through cards, letters and money.

Donations at Puritas are being channeled toward a teacher’s personal connection in Haiti.

“We’ve adopted an orphanage,” said principal Donald Disantis, who led his school in fundraising efforts for the H.O.P.E. Center for Orphaned Girls.

Puritas students have helped fundraise through candy sales, bake sales, and planning a dance-a-thon. The project ends on Valentine’s Day, but Disantis said the students will continue to keep in touch with the Haitian children.

“They are truly all excited for the things we are planning,” he said.

Jennifer Rodopoulos, a teacher at Montgomery’s Forest Avenue School in Alabama is helping co-sponsor the Junior Beta Club’s “Hearts for Haiti”. Students were asked to decorate plain white hearts, and then will sell them for a minimum of a dollar donation.

We hope to circle our whole school with hearts--on every hallway,” Rodopoulos said.

She is also helping the Junior Beta Club fill gallon-sized Ziploc bags with essential toiletries such as soap, towels, toothbrushes and Band-Aids.

With lessons in giving, the education community continues to support to Haiti’s road to recovery. NEA is supporting CNEH with contributions to Education International’s Haiti Solidarity Fund. The resources will be used to support teachers and their families, support the resumption of schooling, and reestablish the CNEH education union services and office.

Checks supporting the Solidarity Fund can be made out to the National Education Association; which will be forwarded directly to EI for humanitarian assistance to CNEH. These can be sent to:

Haiti Earthquake Recovery
National Education Association
1201 16th Street NW
Suite 614
Washington DC 20036