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Berkeley High Students Raise $10,000 for Haiti Relief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 28, 2010 - 08:23:00 AM
Berkeley High School students count money raised for Haiti relief on Friday, Jan. 22.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Berkeley High School students count money raised for Haiti relief on Friday, Jan. 22.

Every penny counted at Berkeley High School’s “Relief for Haiti” campaign. 

After more than a week of fundraising online and in classrooms, the Berkeley High Student Leadership Team announced Wednesday that they had collected $10,191—surpassing their $8,000 goal—which they would hand over to Boston-based Partners in Health for earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti.  

The school will continue to accept donations online. 

As the students unloaded coins and bills on a desk in Principal Jim Slemp’s office Friday, Gelin, a Berkeley High senior who immigrated from the Haitian city of Port-de-Paix two years ago, watched quietly.  

Gelin has not heard from her sister and two brothers, who were in Haiti when the earthquake struck.  

“My dad called and said one of my brothers was in Petit Goave when the damage happened,” she said.  

Located about 45 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the coastal town of Petit Goave was devastated by the 7.0 earthquake that struck Jan 12, killing tens of thousands.  

Gelin said she appreciated the efforts of her fellow classmates to help Haiti.  

“I think it’s a blessing,” she said. “If America is willing to help, we will let them help us.”.”  

Berkeley High Director of Student Activities Chris Young said the school had decided to do a fundraiser to hone the students’ leadership skills.  

“On the first day we had someone go to the courtyard with a tin and they received $50 in 10 minutes,” he said. “This is also helping students learn more about Haiti, its culture and history.”  

Emerson Elementary School handed over its $500 contribution toward Haiti to Berkeley High Wednesday. Other Berkeley public schools are carrying out their own fundraising campaigns as well. 

A big banner with the words “Where Humanity Struggles to Live, Berkeley High Steps Up to Give” fluttered in the afternoon rain on the campus quad.  

Dominique Fluker, who is of Haitian descent, said her cousin’s father was missing since the earthquake struck in Port-au-Prince.  

“We don’t know where he is. It’s very nerve-racking,” she said. “I hope that the situation in Haiti is resolved soon. I am glad we are helping in some way.”  

As the students stacked the money neatly on the table, more people came into the room to donate. Someone handed in $20 and $50 bills.  

“People were willing to donate because they know people who have family out there,” said 12th-grader Danielle Thibeadeaux, “We were surprised by the generosity.”  

Senior Jeanette Mayle said that she decided to pitch in because she wanted to make a difference in some little way.  

“I just felt really bad that people were suffering so much when we are so fortunate,” she said. “We have lots of students who are of Haitian descent at our school, and this is like standing in solidarity with them.”