Front row: Reily, Shea, and Tyce Christian
Back: Tommy and Joey Turi, Jack Chlopak
PHOTO: Maura Mahoney
Many of us spent the past week watching, reading, and trying to absorb the terrible news about the January 12th earthquake that hit Haiti. We tried to talk to our children about it, and most important, tried to figure out ways to help. One of the best pieces of parenting advice I saw last week was a quote from children’s television icon Mr. Rogers, who once said, “”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Children are both comforted and inspired by “the helpers.” You can help your kids find ways to become helpers themselves.
One simple and speedy way is by online donations. Bill Strathmann, the CEO of Bethesda-based Network for Good, gave me some tips to make such help more tangible to kids: “After seeing the news and feeling helpless, kids and their families can get online at sites like ours, learn which organizations (large and small) are actually on the ground in Haiti, and then have a family discussion about what type of assistance they want to provide. Whether it’s donating to help Haitian children, supply water, provide healthcare or rebuild houses, the kids can choose based on their own personal preferences. They can even consider setting up small recurring/monthly donations from their allowance that send rare but much needed ongoing support to the relief and rebuild efforts.”
Children can also carry out their own grassroots fundraising. At towns and schools across the country (and the world) kids are selling lemonade, washing cars, and holding bake sales to raise money.
At Silver Spring’s Eastern Middle School, which like many other schools in the area has a large number of Haitian students who still have family and friends in Haiti, students are bringing in money for a “Hats for Haiti” drive. All donations will go to the American Red Cross’s Haiti Relief Effort, and every student who contributed will wear a hat on Friday.
In Chevy Chase, Jack Chlopak, 11, a student at Green Acres in Rockville, was upset by the disaster and looking for a way to contribute. He thought of going door-to-door in the neighborhood, asking for Red Cross donations, and his mom, Ellen Globokar, suggested that he call some friends to help out. So he contacted pals from Somerset Elementary, Joey Turi and Reily Christian, both 11, and they in turn recruited their siblings, Tommy Turi, 9, and Shea and Tyce Christian (ages 11 and 9). The families decided that the kids could also hand out cookies as a token of thanks to people who donated, so they all spent Sunday baking five to six dozen cookies each. The kids then headed out on Martin Luther King Day and canvassed the town of Somerset for nearly three hours. Jack and his mom set a goal of $100-$200, and with $500 as a stretch.
They came home with over $1,100 for the relief effort.
The kids were obviously thrilled to help the victims of the earthquake, and they learned some important lessons along the way. “It was fun!” recalled Reily Christian with a smile, and Joey Turi summed up the experience for them all: “If you put a lot of kids together, you can do something big.”
To receive future articles by Maura Mahoney, scroll to the top of this article, and click on SUBSCRIBE. Your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone else.