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Carewear for Haiti


Heather Subbert’s fourth grade classroom at Mary Welsh Elementary displays bracelets they made to sell as a fundraiser to help Haitian earthquake survivors. Pictured are, front row, from left, Sterling Greiner, Claudia Adamson, Emilee Eckholm, Tyler Hunzinger, Tanner Reysack, Hanna Mullnix; middle row, Ray King, Cavin Malloy, Jake Weldon, Jeffery Weiermann, Reese Koppenhafer, Dalton Martinson; back row, Zach Steckly, Graeson Trevino, Olivia McClanahan and McKayla Lang.

When a 7.0 earthquake struck the country of Haiti Jan. 12, a classroom of fourth graders over 2,000 miles away felt the aftershock.

 Three days after the earthquake had killed thousands of Haitians, while leaving many others homeless, injured and separated from their families, Mary Welsh Elementary fourth grade teacher Heather Subbert discussed the tragedy with her classroom of 18 students. To help her students empathize, Subbert shared a story of one of the many schools to collapse in the quake. 

“One of the first things we talked about was a school and how school kids were trapped in the rubble and how parents and family members went to help each other out at that time. It was being able to relate to being in school and knowing if something tragic happened in our school that people would help us, too, that I think helped them,” she said.

During classroom discussion, Subbert saw her classroom knew and cared more about the earthquake victims than she realized.

“If you saw all the houses, they were all torn down, and people under them because they weren’t ready for it. It just wasn’t good at all,” said student Claudia Adamson.

Fourth grader Tyler Huntzinger said images of Haiti children on news broadcasts had a great impact on her.

“What really bothers me is the kids that are laying there and not really caring because they don’t know what to do and bugs are crawling over them,” she said.

Seeing an opportunity to involve her classroom in a greater cause, Subbert encouraged them to think how they could raise money to buy medical supplies and food for Haitians. Together, Subbert and the class came up with the idea to sell homemade bracelets to other students. The “carewear” would be trendy, but would also represent their cause.

Over a little more than a week’s time, many of Subbert’s students stayed used their recess and free time during class to make the bracelets, which were later sold before and after school to students and teachers. The trend caught on quickly.

“I remember I would come in early to school and I would see 10 or 15 people come in and get all the bracelets and we would only have one or two left,” Adamson said.

Subbert recalled the fourth graders could not make the bracelets fast enough, so they recruited up to 20 other third and fourth graders to help them.

“It was definitely a team effort. A lot of people played a part,” Subbert said.

When the fundraiser finished up last week, the class was surprised to see they’d raised over $600 to go to UNICEF and World Vision.

“None of us in our class thought we could get up to $500. We thought we’d get up to $100 or maybe $200,” Adamson said.

Plus, their trend caught on, and Williamsburg High School started up a fundraiser of its own.

“Everybody started to say that they’re copying, but a teacher said that it was because they liked our idea,” Huntzinger said.

UPDATED February 3, 2010 11:13 AM

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