Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Valley eighth grader organizes school-wide fund drive for CRS assistance efforts in Haiti
by Scott Cooper, for the Inland Register
(From the July 1, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Chelsea Rainbolt, an eighth grader in Valley, Wash., recently organized a fund drive to aid Catholic Relief Services’ emergency work in Haiti. With her is School Superintendent Mark Selle. (IR photo from Catholic Charities)
Images of starving children in Haiti on her television moved Chelsea Rainbolt, an eighth grade student at Valley School (K-8) in Stevens County, to action. With the help of fellow students, Superintendent Mark Selle, and school staff, Chelsea organized a fund-raiser to provide help to people in Haiti through Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS is the U.S. bishops’ overseas emergency relief and development agency.
Selle said that Chelsea came to his office one day in late February in tears after watching a news report about children in Haiti without food.
“We take everything for granted here, we complain about our school food,” said Chelsea, “but people in Haiti would be grateful for it.”
As president of the school’s Associated Student Body, Chelsea had a structure ready to take up the challenge at her disposal. The Student Body approved a penny drive, with a goal of raising $250.
With the help of seventh grader Maddi Swidergal, Chelsea designed a PowerPoint presentation, complete with a reference bibliography, to show to every classroom, including the kindergarteners. A coffee can with a photo of a Haitian girl on it appeared in each classroom. Every day, from mid-March through mid-April, Chelsea and her friends collected the loose change that students dropped into the cans, then gave up their lunch recesses to count and roll the coins.
Chelsea researched international aid organizations on-line to decide where to donate the fund-drive’s proceeds. Several organizations were contacted; only two responded. One of those two was CRS. Two factors weighed heavily in the student body’s choice: first, CRS is an established agency with a proven track record of assistance in Haiti; second, only 6 percent of donations to CRS fund overhead and administrative costs.
The Associated Student Body at Valley School recently sent CRS a check for $693.39 for Haitian relief. Chelsea is pleased with the amount. “Raising money,” she said, “is hard work and takes a lot of time.”
Many fellow students told her the project was “cool” and asked to help out, she said.
“Haiti is so far away, (and raising money) is so much to do,” she said. “I thought it was far-fetched.
Next year, Chelsea will be a student at Springdale High School. She hopes to be a doctor and to volunteer in the developing world. Both she and Selle are parishioners at Holy Ghost Parish in Valley.
(Donations for Haitian relief, especially needed after disastrous flooding in late spring, can be sent to: Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore MD 21203.)