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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 22, 2010

Schools statewide raise $123,000 for Haiti relief

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Coralie Chun Matayoshi, center, Hawai'i Red Cross chief executive officer, accepted a $50 donation for Haiti relief from students from Variety School of Hawaii.

MANDY MARTIN | Hawai'i Red Cross

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In schools across Hawai'i, small fundraisers for Haiti earthquake relief are beginning to add up to a lot of money being sent to the American Red Cross.

Individual classrooms, high school clubs, athletes and a school principal have planned simple fundraising projects with the aim of making a difference for the suffering people of Haiti.

Their efforts so far have resulted in $123,000 sent to the Hawai'i Red Cross chapter from more than 950 donations as of Wednesday, said Coralie Matayoshi, Hawai'i Red Cross chief executive officer.

"The people of Hawai'i continue to show the aloha and generosity whenever help is needed, whether it's here in the Islands, on the Mainland or in other countries," Matayoshi said.

This week, the students in Paige Thorndike's class at Variety School of Hawaii in Kaimukī donated $50 they earned through their HI-5 — recycling project. The money was going to be used for a year-end party, but Thorndike said her students felt good about their decision.

"They were very proud that they all unanimously voted to donate the money because they were very worried about the people of Haiti," she said.

Kalāheo High School students also are concerned and empathized with the earthquake victims, said Brandi Sanson, student body president.

"I heard people say, 'This could be us. We could not have a school. We could not have a home. This could be us with our families and all this rubble,' " she said.

Kalāheo's Student Council, Teen Care group, athletics program and Red Cross Club began collecting money from students in classrooms and at lunch, Sanson said. More than $500 has been donated and tonight the four groups will sponsor Hoops for Haiti and seek additional donations from spectators at a basketball doubleheader at the school.

Richard Lau, Kalāheo student activity coordinator, said the teenagers responded to the earthquake immediately with a collection. Then they got together to plan the basketball fundraiser, Lau said.

"Even though we're far away, even though sometimes we feel so detached from what's going on, when disaster like this happens and when so many people are affected, it really tugs at our students to respond," he said. "That's the great thing about this project. Students are responding."

Charles Naumu, principal at Ānuenue School in Pālolo, also felt the need to respond immediately. He organized a small group of eight people to march in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, with a mobile unit that collected donations from parade watchers.

People gave $3,700 and Naumu said he wanted to express his gratitude to those donors.

"These folks are not the well-to-do business folks or well-to-do philanthropist," he said. "These are just average people on the street."

Naumu said doing the fundraiser was also his way to give back to his supporters, following a period last year when the school was hit by a large number of swine flu cases and some people criticized Naumu for keeping the school open.

"I wanted to thank the public for having faith in us, for having faith in me to work through the problem," he said.

Fundraisers also are expected at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School, La Pietra and Stevenson Middle School.

Roy's Restaurant is holding a sold-out fundraiser tonight and one on Sunday for which tickets are still available. Nashville Waikiki and Cabanas Pool Bar at Ohana West Hotel, 2330 Kūhiō Ave., have fundraisers scheduled for Sunday.