Locals step up to aid Haitians
January 26, 2010
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Issaquah community groups, churches and schools are stepping up to help Haiti.
Since Jan. 12, when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the country, rescue and relief efforts have been sent from around the world amid recurring aftershocks, which have registered upward of 5.0 magnitude.
Haitian officials have recorded more than 70,000 deaths. However, they estimate the death toll may rise to nearly 200,000. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
Locally, Issaquah School District schools, like Sunset and Challenger elementary schools and Liberty High School, have raised thousands of dollars to help relief efforts in Haiti.
Challenger is accepting donations for the U.S. Fund for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund for Haiti.Students, faculty and parents at Sunset held a bake sale last week to raise money to send to Haiti. Hundreds of baked cookies, brownies, candies and cakes turned up for families and community members to shop for Jan. 22. After school, the bake sale continued at Matthews Thriftway Market on Cougar Mountain.
More than $4,000 was raised, which was donated to Partners in Health/Stand with Haiti, Red Cross and World Vision.
Liberty High School students held a loose change drive for Haiti and raised more than $1,400 after their Martin Luther King Jr. Day Assembly Jan. 14.
One teacher flew to the East Coast to retrieve her adopted child, said Sara Niegowski, district communications director.
Julie Enyeart, a teacher at Issaquah Valley Elementary School, was in the process of adopting a child from Haiti when the earthquake hit, Niegowski said.
Because of the devastation, adoption agencies and the Haitian and U.S. governments expedited the adoption process.
Enyeart has not returned to work, so she was unavailable for comment prior to The Press’ deadline.
However, she was featured at the end of a CNN segment uniting children and their new families, so district officials know both are OK, Niegowski said.
Local churches are also pitching in to provide relief efforts.
Weekday Bible study groups and Sunday services have collected thousands of dollars to send relief.
Evergreen Community Church, in the Maple Hills community, has taken up collections that they’ll donate to Baptist World Relief, which is sending aid to Haiti, said Pastor Don Burnett.
“This is really God’s opportunity to show us grace,” amid a disaster, he said of the relief efforts.
One of the church’s collections was taken at their annual Polar Bear swim and others have come in throughout the week. So far, members have raised about $1,000.
One of the things Burnett said he’s been most impressed with is that relief agencies have set up easy-to-donate methods, like text donations, which some of his parishioners are taking advantage of.
Foothills Baptist Church is also donating more than $900 to the relief efforts of Baptist World Relief, said Associate Pastor Craig Wilson.
“We’re asking our church members to donate money,” he said. “I personally believe that, as a church and as Christians, that we’re supposed to help those in need, and I think that church should be the very first to step up and help with that.”
The Rev. Beth Yeager and her parishioners at Pine Lake Covenant Church are donating their money to Covenant World Relief, 50 percent of which will go to Haiti, she said.
Covenant World Relief is a fundraising arm through the Covenant Church network that provides disaster relief around the world. Nationwide, Yeager said the organization has already raised $85,000 for Haitian relief. Locally, the church’s 1,200 members have donated about $7,000.
The children who go to the church are also taking up a loose change fund, she said.
Parishioners at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church also raised $1,000, which was sent to Episcopal Relief and Development, said the Rev. Ann Lukens.
“There are 140 Episcopal churches in Haiti, most of which were leveled, but the clergy are being tireless in equipping those around them to the best of their ability,” she said.
If you’re looking to get involved, ask your children or grandchildren if you can help their schools, or go online to donate to international relief agencies. Even if you don’t go to a church but want to donate, pastors said they’d welcome any donations.
How to helpRed Cross: www.redcross.org. Under “How to help,” click “donate.”
Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.