When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last month, Harborview Elementary counsellor Annie Caulfield knew many of her students were going to be affected by the storm because a large number have family there.
“We had so many kids directly impacted,” Caulfield said.
That’s why she teamed with about 20 fifth graders in the Harborview Roots and Shoots club she sponsors to raise some relief money to send overseas.
“We talk a lot about world peace in here, and this was a good way to promote that by helping people,” Caulfield said.
The students designed posters and helped Caulfield think of ways to raise money. She then asked for donations in classes and spread the word around the Juneau School District to see what money could be raised.
Her goal was somewhere around $400 to $500. Ultimately, more than $1,300 in donations came from Harborview, Gastineau,
Mendenhall River and Floyd Dryden Middle School.
The students joined Caulfield Wednesday in her classroom to donate the money to a Red Cross of America official and several volunteers.
“I think it’s great kids are giving pennies — that’s the epitome of the Red Cross,” said Bill Hodge, a disaster assistance team volunteer in Juneau. “It doesn’t matter how much you give, it’s that you’re giving to help people in need.”
In total, almost $400 of the donation came from coins — including 3,097 pennies — which were often given by the youngest students, Caulfield said.
“It was so sweet seeing little five year olds with fist fulls of coins wanting to help,” she said. “Each penny made a difference.”
For Alfonso Puma, a fifth grader at Harborview, there was something special about raising money for the typhoon that affected his family directly, as opposed to other fundraising efforts like a book drive.
“We were usually buying books, but now we’re giving to people who need it the most,” Puma said.
Puma, along with fellow Harborview fifth graders Ella Sapinoso and Julianne Sorano, was all smiles when he thought about the people who would be helped by their donations.
Sapinoso said seeing donation efforts on news networks made her feel especially proud about joining the effort.
“We donated a lot of money,” she said.
For the Roots and Shoots club, which focuses on humanitarian ideals, the drive for relief donations proved to be a perfect chance for students to act out what they talk about in their club, Caulfield said.
“This became a perfect way for them to do something about something happening in the world,” she said.