When an earthquake hit Haiti nearly four years ago, the students in Deanna Brajcich’s class at Wishart Elementary more than lived up to the words emblazoned on a wall inside the school’s front door: We Help Others.
The Grade 5 and 6 students rallied to raise money to help children thousands of kilometres away. The Canadian government matched those efforts, boosting the school’s fundraising total to $6,000.
Now, Brajcich’s and Michelle Bevan’s Grade 3 and 4 class hopes to do the same for children in the Philippines devastated by typhoon Haiyan.
Brajcich overheard her students talking about the destruction and loss and encouraged them to think of ways they could help.
“They feel quite helpless because they are so far away and because they’re really young,” she said. “So we talked about how it doesn’t matter how old you are. One of the kids said it perfectly: ‘If we all give a little, it will make a big difference.’ ”
The students met Wednesday to brainstorm ideas and make posters. They plan to hold a bake sale on Nov. 26 and Brajcich has sent out a flyer, encouraging people to drop off cash or cheques at the school over the next two weeks. The money will go to Save the Children’s disaster relief efforts in the Philippines.
Brajcich said her students will fan out to the different classes in the school over the coming days to educate other children about the situation and explain what they can do to help.
“I don’t know how much we’re trying to raise, but if everyone at least donates $1 we’ll raise about $300,” said Dylan Snyder, 8.
He hopes the money will help buy food for children in the Philippines and “stuff to play with to take their minds off what happened.”
Emma Logan, 8, said she wanted to help because the children and families “lost everything and I wouldn’t want that to happen to us.”
Brajcich hopes the project will encourage compassion and empathy and alleviate her students’ sense of powerlessness.
“For me it’s just as important as teaching them math and all of that stuff — having this awareness that they can actually effect change,” she said.
“People seem to think it doesn’t affect them the same, but they know and they want to help just as much as the adults want to.”
Brajcich said the fundraising project in support of Haiti’s children in 2010 gave her former students a real sense of accomplishment “from watching how something that they did, in such a small group, made such an impact.”
She said the community rallied behind the class, and a Save the Children representative later visited the school and presented the students with a plaque in appreciation of their efforts.
“Any time they heard about it or watched something, they knew they were actually doing something about it. They were being part of the solution.”
If you want to help the Wishart’s students’ efforts, donations to Save the Children will be accepted at the school until Nov. 26.
You can also donate at savethechildren.ca, but please let Brajcich know at firstname.lastname@example.org, so she can include the donation in her students’ final total. All donations are eligible for tax receipts.
How to help victims of typhoon Haiyan
• Contribute through the Canadian Red Cross via the local office at 909 Fairfield Rd., at redcross.ca or by calling 1-800-418-1111.
• Make a donation to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse. For more information, go to crwarehouse.ca or call 250-381-GIVE (4483).
• Show up for a fundraising dinner Friday, 7 p.m. at the Bayanihan Community Centre, 1709 Blanshard St. $10 a plate, limited capacity.
• Customers may make donations of $2 or $5 — or multiples thereof — to support the Red Cross at all checkouts in B.C. Liquor Stores.
• The Public Service Centre on the first floor of Victoria city hall is accepting donations on behalf of the Red Cross, with tax receipts provided for donations of $25 and more.