Students, faculty and staff in the Cranford School District presented $2,500 in Haiti relief funds to the American Red Cross on Tuesday at Lincoln School.
"There is always a great deal of faculty and student involvement in any kind of benevolent engagement," said Superintendent Gayle Carrick.
When the earthquake hit Haiti's capitol city of Port-au-Prince, Cranford school administrators looked for some way to help. They decided that each school would raise money as it saw fit, and that the character education coordinators for each building would spearhead the fundraising effort. At Lincoln School, for example, Principal Dennis McCaffery went around every day with a bucket and students would reach into their pockets and give what they could. At the end of the month-long donation period, McCaffery and the rest of the Lincoln School staff matched the students' donation.
"We just wanted to help," said student Dana Beers. McCaffery said that Beers and fellow student Teuan Range were instrumental in motivating their peers and assisting faculty and staff with the fundraising efforts.
Everett Merrill, the Haiti Program Director for the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter based in Plainfield, was on hand on Tuesday morning to receive the district's donation.
"There are a significant number of families in Union County with relatives and friends vastly affected by the earthquake," said Merrill. "The American Red Cross provides basics to people coming into the country to stay with their families."
Such basics include blankets, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, which are packaged into "comfort kits." The Red Cross also provides financial assistance to buy groceries, clothing and shoes for new arrivals. Merrill says that the $2,500 raised can buy "several hundred" comfort kits.
This is not the first relief effort funded by Cranford schools. Students also organized pretzel and bake sales, orphanage funds, luminaries and used jeans in the weeks following the disaster.
Sandra Gasorek, the Character Education coordinator for Lincoln School says she regularly has over 50 students volunteer for other programs she runs, such as outreach efforts with Bridges Outreach and Meals On Wheels.
"Any time there is an opportunity to help, everyone steps up."