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Holland College folk of all ages raising funds for Haiti – Part 1

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On January 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of Haiti. Buildings in the capital city, Port au Prince, collapsed, killing thousands and trapping thousands more. The images of the devastation and suffering that we have seen on television and the web have affected all of us. The Holland College community has responded with compassion and commitment, and fund raisers have sprung up on campuses all across the province. My next few postings will be about those efforts.

Hotdogs of Hope for Haiti

Some of the children from the Holland College Child Development Centre with Red Cross representative Margaret MacKenzie.

In spite of parents’ best efforts to minimize their young children’s exposure to the news coverage, it is almost impossible to avoid entirely. So it is no surprise that children in the Holland College Child Development Centre wanted to reach out to help children in Haiti. When early childhood educators at the centre came up with a unique idea – Hotdogs of Hope for Haiti, the little ones were excited about being able to help the relief effort. Family and friends were invited to drop in over lunch time one Friday to purchase hotdogs and artwork that the children created especially for the event.

Marlene Harding, who spearheaded the project, said the event was an opportunity to teach the children about social responsibility.

“As a staff we believe that it’s important to build a sense of ‘global community’ in our children. We want to help them develop a spirit of giving, love and compassion, and to know how to use that to reach out and offer hope to those who are in need. It’s all about loving our neighbours. Some people live very far away – like in a place called Haiti – but they are our neighbours all the same,” she explains.

Canadian Red Cross representative Margaret MacKenzie visited the child care centre the day before the fundraiser to talk to the children about the Red Cross, emergency preparedness, and about the needs of the people of Haiti.

I once heard a children’s writer say that before he sends a manuscript to his publisher, he reads it to a group of children to see how they react. He uses what he calls the Velcro test to measure the story’s ability to engage the children. If the children begin fiddling with the Velcro on their sneakers while he is reading to them, they’ve lost interest.

Margaret and her presentation certainly pass the Velcro test.

Margaret talks to the children in the centre about emergency preparedness.

“Can anyone tell me what happens in an earthquake,” she asks.

Immediately there is a sea of little arms waving frantically.

“The buildings fall down,” one boy says gravely.

“Yes, that’s right, sometimes buildings do fall down.” Margaret points to a small girl.

“And sometimes people die,” the girl says.

“That’s true,” Margaret acknowledges, “sometimes people do die in earthquakes.”

Another little girl raises her hand, and Margaret points to her.

“The earth’s plates rub together and pressure builds up between them,” she says. “When the pressure gets to be too big, it makes an earthquake.”

While we’re all still trying to process the fact that this five-year-old child has given us a succinct and pretty accurate definition of what causes an earthquake, another little guy’s hand shoots up.

“Yes?” says Margaret.

“I’ve been to Moncton,” he announces proudly.

Ah well, that’s kids for you!

The next day, the children’s families flocked to the centre to participate in the much anticipated Hotdogs of Hope for Haiti event. Sales were brisk, and in total, the children raised almost $750 for the Red Cross.

Margaret admires a piece of artwork with Ryan O'Connor.

That’s a substantial donation from the small group of children, families, and staff of the Holland College Child Development Centre, and one that will be welcomed by the Red Cross as they continue their work in Haiti.

As for the children, they’ve learned a little bit about earthquakes, emergency preparedness, and donating time and money to those less fortunate in their time of need.

Oh, and also a little bit more about Moncton!

Written by Sara Underwood

February 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

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