Local schools find creative ways to send aid to Haiti

Thursday, January 28, 2010

As relief efforts for Haiti continue, school districts are scrambling to meet a state goal.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education challenged districts to collect and assemble 100,000 hygiene kits within 10 days.

"It is kind of exciting for children to play a part and become more cognizant of the situation in Haiti," said Cheri Fuemmeler, director of the Southeast Regional Professional Development Center.

The center, at Southeast Missouri State University, is coordinating collections for its 16-county service area. Districts from Ste. Genevieve County to the Bootheel will drop off their kits from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at the former Mr. Bulky's store in West Park Mall.

"I feel like all our schools will participate in some capacity," she said.

The kits will be collected and distributed in Haiti by Convoy of Hope, a Springfield, Mo.-based organization. They will include items like toothpaste, combs and soap in a plastic zipper bag.

The state project supplements other ongoing fundraising efforts at area school districts.

At South Elementary School in Jackson, the windows and walls are full of footprints illustrating a schoolwide fundraising project.

Librarian Susan Skelton said students traced their foot on paper, signed their name and wrote how they want to help Haitians. She said teachers encouraged students to earn money to donate.

"We talked about some things they could do around the house," she said.

The project raised $1,000 that will be donated to the American Red Cross, she said.

Orchard Drive Elementary in Jackson is planning a "Hats for Haiti" day, allowing students to wear a hat if they contribute $1 to relief efforts.

Clippard Elementary in Cape Girardeau is in the midst of Help Haiti Week, said counselor Sue Cook. So far, teachers raised $250 by purchasing passes to wear jeans.

"It's a big deal to get to wear jeans," she said.

The school community service group, which includes third- and fourth-grade students, helped organize other fundraisers including a popcorn sale. Students are also donating books for a sale on Friday.

"I think they feel good about being able to contribute to making it better," she said.

Friday, Jefferson Elementary School students raised $100 with a hat day.

"The event helped make our students more aware of the world around them and how important it is to reach out to our world community," said principal Mark Cook. Central Junior High School is organizing a similar event.

Chaffee High School students are contributing donations for a teacher competition. The teacher who receives the most donations will be duct-taped to the wall at the Senior Night boys basketball game on Feb. 12, said counselor Brandi Ritter.

abusch@semissourian.com

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