After Haiti earthquake, US kids launch their own aid efforts
US kids are launching fundraisers, holding bake sales, and emptying their own piggy banks to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake.
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Then, the 8-year-old said, “Mommy, we need to do something. I need to do something,” remembers her mother, Robin Lucas.
Americans have responded faster to the disaster in Haiti than they have to previous crises, and many of those contributing – by launching fundraisers, holding bake sales, or emptying their own piggy banks – are children.
And, like Hannah, some are learning that helping can also help them feel less powerless in the face of such devastation.
“Kids are hearing that something is going on, that there is a problem somewhere, and kids can start feeling very helpless, particularly young children,” says Cynthia Langtiw, a psychotherapist at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology who specializes in issues of children and trauma. “Even just to give a quarter at school or to find a pair of socks they want to donate can be so empowering.”
For Hannah, the images on the news were overwhelming, and Ms. Lucas says she at first felt guilty for turning it on. But together they found a nonprofit, Partners in Health, that was seeking blanket donations, and Hannah decided to launch a blanket drive with a goal of 10,000 blankets. Her mother helped her create a simple website, and now all the schools in her Georgia district are participating. The national Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has picked it up, and Hannah recently got an e-mail from 8-year-old twins in Texas who are starting their own blanket drive.
“It’s like a light bulb turned on for her,” Lucas says. Next year, the family may consider a trip to visit Haiti, which Hannah has also been asking for.
Hannah isn’t the only young child to reach a fairly large audience. Charlie Simpson, a 7-year-old London boy, has been making news for a bike ride that has raised more than $200,000 for UNICEF’s Haiti fund.
But far more common are the thousands of classrooms, sports teams, and community groups – often led by one or two kids – that are coming together and creatively pooling their resources:
• Caitlyn Sather, a fourth-grader in Marietta, Ga., encouraged her school to hold a pajama day, in which kids were allowed to wear pajamas if they donated at least $2. She also has started collecting shoes for the Soles4Souls drive.