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'With love, to Haiti'

Students in archdiocesan schools find myriad ways to help Haitians affected by earthquake

While their parents and others raised funds, children of the Marian Center Inclusive Pre-School in Miami Gardens got busy sending prayers to their counterparts in Haiti. Here, teacher Agnes Powell helps Jamari Desilva put his palm prints on a poster that says,

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

While their parents and others raised funds, children of the Marian Center Inclusive Pre-School in Miami Gardens got busy sending prayers to their counterparts in Haiti. Here, teacher Agnes Powell helps Jamari Desilva put his palm prints on a poster that says, "You are in our prayers."


MIAMI From pre-k to 12th grade, students in archdiocesan schools have been doing their part to help Haiti.

Less than 48 hours after the earthquake hit, students at many schools were paying $1 or $5 for the privilege of not wearing their uniforms, and sending all the money raised to Haiti relief. Others were selling baked goods and planning walk-a-thons; collecting food, water and medical supplies; and helping to pack relief supplies at Notre Dame d’Haiti Church in Miami.

Students at Archbishop Edward McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches even posted a four-and-a-half minute video on YouTube featuring heart-rending images of the destruction and students of Haitian descent asking their fellow students to become HEROes: Haiti Emergency Relief Organization Helpers (www.youtube.com/watch?v=LONAHN53Pvs).

“Our students have been extremely involved in the relief effort,” said Francisco Castillo, director of campus ministry and theology professor at the high school.

The school set up a memorial in the chapel for students who wanted to come and pray, and scriptural readings in French and Creole were part of a Mass celebrated Jan. 21 by Father Kris Bartos, assistant principal for Christian formation.

“A grief counselor from Catholic Hospice also is available on campus to our students, faculty, parents and staff who have been affected by the tragedy,” Castillo said.

Students at Immaculata-La Salle High School in Miami raised over $20,000 the first week, enough to provide 1,500 people with tents, water, food, blankets and sleeping bags. Some also volunteered at Notre Dame d’Haiti, and the baseball team had helped pack a relief container full of water.

“There has been an outpouring of compassion and material support for the people of Haiti,” said Salesian Sister Patricia Roche, principal. “In this time of great tragedy, it is consoling to see our young people responding with such commitment and dedication.”

“We are very concerned about Haiti, in part because we have a sister school there and a Salesian mission that was completely destroyed,” said Juan Carlos Moya, a faculty member at Immaculata-La Salle.

St.
Anthony School in Fort Lauderdale also has a sister school in Haiti founded by a parishioner.

“We have challenged each student to raise $10 for Haiti relief,” said Norma Kramer, principal.

Even before the school announced its official dress-down day, two students raised $114 in a bake sale and the fifth grade class raised $70 by selling donuts.

The dress-down day at Immaculate Conception School in Hialeah raised $5,400.

Carlota Morales, principal of Sts. Peter and Paul School in Miami, said her school had raised more than $5,000 through a school-wide collection Jan. 15 that garnered a donation of $1,000 from a single family.

In addition to a bake sale, St. Andrew School in Coral Springs held a walk-a-thon the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 25. They also are collecting non-perishable food items for delivery to Haiti.

Mother of Our Redeemer School in Miami asked students to bring in an empty can to school and challenged them to fill it with money for Haiti.

Blessed Trinity School in Miami Springs raised $3,500 at a spaghetti dinner Jan. 20.

“Seeing the devastation in Haiti we knew we had to do something to help,” said Maria Perez, principal. “We did a similar event to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005 and raised over $2,000. This is our true mission, to help others in their time of need.”

St. Bonaventure School in Davie not only raised money during a dress-down day, they also are keeping Haiti in their prayers every morning, according to Mary F. Arnold, resource director and teacher.

St. Mark the Evangelist School in Southwest Ranches started a Hope for Haiti fund. Students raised money through a dress-down day and by collecting from car to car during drop-off and pick-up times at the school.

The students in Little Flower School in Hollywood raised over $2,000 in one week through the student council’s “Hearts for Haiti” campaign.

“The hallway is strewn with pink hearts,” said Maureen McNulty, principal. “Donors’ names are printed on the hearts. Judi Sallah, fourth grade teacher and student council moderator, came up with the idea. Not bad for a school of 300 students!”

Students and parents at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale collected $8,500 in a short period of time. Some of their parents, who are medical doctors, also were working in the field in Haiti in cooperation with the University of Miami Medical School.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School students are continuing to help Haiti by asking for medical donations.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

St. Thomas Aquinas High School students are continuing to help Haiti by asking for medical donations.

Simultaneously, St. Thomas Aquinas students have partnered with St. John the Baptist Parish in Fort Lauderdale to respond to the requests of doctors in Haiti for medical supplies such as antibiotic ointments, band-aids, diapers, all kinds of gauze, hand sanitizer, iodine, latex gloves, mosquito repellent, Pedialyte, and Wet Ones. The supplies are being delivered directly to medical personnel in Haiti.

Principal Christine Gonzalez of St. Bartholomew School in Miramar, many of whose students are of Haitian descent, said in addition to fund-raisers, a special school Mass was being planned “to honor all of the victims that have passed during this tragic time.”

At St. Mary Cathedral School in Miami, a prayer basket was set up in the school office “where our children, families, friends and staff may place the names of relatives and friends that they wish our school to pray for,” said Sister Kathleen Carr, a Sister of St. Joseph who volunteers as a tutor at the school.

“Since St. Mary’s is primarily Haitian, several of us have been in the classrooms to support our children and allow them to begin our prayer basket by writing names or drawing pictures of those for whom they wish us to pray,” Sister Carr said.

“The prayer basket will contain the names of any persons needing our prayers, regardless of their culture,” she added.

The school was planning a New Year’s Dance to assist with its own expenses, but instead changed the focus to “Dance for Haiti” and raised $1,328 for the archdiocese’s relief fund.

They also planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the end of January.

“We cannot wait for February,” Sister Carr said. “’Hearts for Haiti’ will be our focus. Instead of the special Valentine’s cards and flowers, we will be giving a simple paper heart to all those donating to the Haitian relief. The heart will read ‘With Love to Haiti’ or a similar expression."

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