D-FW students join Haiti relief effort

When a flier about Arlington schools' Haiti relief campaign came out recently, Pope Elementary first-grader Judith Teran hadn't seen the television images of the devastating earthquake -- her mother tries to shield the sensitive girl.

But as soon as her mother explained the situation, Teran, 7, was ready to help. She took a hammer to her piggy bank and donated the $100 she had been saving for a trip to Disneyland. It was added to a districtwide collection for Save the Children.

"They can get food for them and water and clothes and shoes, and they can give them houses they need," she said.

From teddy bears to bluejeans to checks, student groups from all over Tarrant County have been doing their part to help out in the weeks since the Jan. 12 earthquake, which left thousands dead or homeless.

Teachers said students showed a desire to help almost immediately. Classes, sports teams, student councils and other clubs thought up both simple and creative ways to collect cash and necessities.

By Friday, Arlington schools had collected $34,136.53 for Save the Children. More than $10,000 of that came from Martin High School, where several organizations teamed up and encouraged students to "Skip the Snacks" and donate the money instead.

At Bowie High School, the drama club is encouraging students to bring in jeans for Aeropostale's Teens for Jeans campaign: 179 pairs had been collected by Friday.

Students reaching out

Students at Daggett Middle School in Fort Worth are holding a dance Friday, and admission is a donation of a toothbrush, soap, a washcloth or bandages. The supplies will be assembled in health kits sent to Haiti through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

In the Northwest school district, students have rallied to support Haitian-born teacher Clemency Green, who has many relatives in Port-au-Prince. All campuses are collecting medical supplies through Feb. 26.

Green teaches at Clara Love Elementary School. Her aunt Marie-Denise St. Albin owns a pharmacy and coordinates supplies for three hospitals where the donations are to be distributed.

"Philanthropy is something that we want to instill in our students and a character we want to build, and this is one way we can help do that," said Angela Scott, spokeswoman for the Northwest school district.

Learning about the earthquake also fit in with classroom work. In the Birdville district, third-graders at Porter Elementary School raised $2,394.47 in a coin drive called Operation Help Haiti.

"Before the earthquake ever hit, they were studying the characteristics and natural things that happen with the Earth. When the earthquake happened, they immediately said, 'We have to help these people,'" Principal Jaimie Smith said.

At Mansfield High School, football players and a coach raised money in a Heels for Haiti campaign. The more money they raised, the less likely they were to have to wear stilettos at a pep rally.

Teddy bears

In Colleyville, Heritage Middle School students also went all out for Haiti relief. Besides collecting personal items, the school had a Pie in the Face benefit. Students' donations bought chances to throw cream pies in teachers' faces.

Others also offered special privileges to spur generosity. North Crowley High School sponsored a jeans-day fundraiser recently that netted more than $9,000, and a local business matched that for a total of nearly $20,000.

Crista Wood, a fourth-grader at Saginaw Elementary School in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw district, was watching the news about Haiti when she imagined how her own little sister would feel in that situation. So with the help of Saginaw businesses, Crista has collected nearly 300 stuffed animals.

"They can hold on to something that would make them feel better," said Crista, 10.


TRACI SHURLEY, 817-390-7641