World leaders are asking for record amounts of humanitarian aid for earthquake-devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and 5,000 miles away, students at several Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools have responded.
By the time fundraising efforts wrap up later this school year, students from Homer, Soldotna, Kenai and Seward could raise up to $9,000, if all goes to plan.
At Kenai Central High, students are taking a shot at alleviating some of the suffering in Haiti.
Justin Carr, the activities director at KCHS, said Michelle Borland's government class is organizing a weeklong dodge ball tournament during lunch that starts today as part of Homegoing Week.
Up to 10 teams of five students will vie for the championship title, to be crowned at an all-school assembly on Friday. Each team must pay an entry fee to get in, which will be donated.
Carr said the junior and senior classes are going for the knockout later this year though.
"They decided they would donate the majority of the proceeds from their prom to the Haiti relief effort. Their goal is $3,500," he said.
Prom organizers are cutting costs by building their own prom set and going low budget wherever possible.
Carr said the pre-made sets can cost as much as $2,000, though they'll still have some construction expenses and will need to save some money for graduation.
At Skyview High, Krista Heldenbrand, a language arts teacher and the student council adviser, said the student council and the National Honor Society co-organized an open house at the school on Feb. 11 where $1,176 was raised.
Students played live music, opened the pool, held a silent auction and hosted games and activities for kids.
At Soldotna Middle, students sold paper rings for 25 cents apiece at lunch to link together in the seventh- and eighth-grade hallways, according to Shirley Zobeck, the secretary there.
Inside of each ring students could write a message for the Haitians, she explained.
"We had the kids give them a message wishing them luck," she said. "There were some really sincerely sweet messages."
Redoubt Elementary reported that its students collected donations, had a bake sale, and sold Valentine's Day candy-grams and raised over $1,071.
All four schools donated their proceeds to the Red Cross.
Heldenbrand said the student-led efforts were an example of the school's values in action.
"What was pretty amazing is that they came to me shortly after the earthquake hit and said, 'Can we figure how to do a fundraiser?' It was 100 percent the students in student council and National Honor Society," she said. "I thought that was amazing. Awareness of the global environment is not typical to students."
In Kenai, Carr echoed those sentiments.
"I think the government classes and language arts classes are trying to get students to think outside of Kenai and think, 'What can you do as an individual to make the community better and what can you do to make the world better?'" he said. "The students thought of the prom idea on their own, it wasn't teacher-generated, several students approached me, the leadership kids had to take it to vote on it and that's what we did. It was pretty much unanimous."
Outside of the central Peninsula, Seward Middle raised over $2,000 for the organization Doctors Without Borders in its "penny wars."
Classes earned a point for every penny they collected and stole points from their competitors by donating bigger coins, bills or checks. Whoever was least in the "negative" by the end, won.
In Homer, sixth-graders at McNeil Canyon Elementary raised $366.50 in their coin drive while students at Homer Middle raised $133 in their Hats for Haiti drive.
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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