03/17/05 — Wayne, Duplin students help victims of tsunami

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Wayne, Duplin students help victims of tsunami

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 17, 2005 1:53 PM

Local school children have sent 13,000 health kits and 12 blankets to tsunami victims.

Fourth graders at Tommy's Road Elementary School initiated a school-wide project recently to gather donations of toiletry items and blankets, and North Duplin Elementary School students raised $650 to help pay for the shipping. The students gathered at the Marion Edwards Recovery Center Initiative warehouse Tuesday morning to bring their last load of supplies to put into the kits and send them off to Asia, where thousands of people remain homeless following the devastating tsuanmi that struck in December.

Three students came from North Duplin and 75 came from Tommy's Road to finish packing boxes and tour the warehouse.

Kayla Newsom, a fourth-graders at Tommy's Road, said the idea of sending help came up when students were talking in class about the tsunami, which killed thousands of people and left many children orphans. Three classes were reading about an boy who had lost his parents and decided they wanted to do something to help, she said. So they began collecting items for the health kits, such as soap, combs and towels and collecting money to buy blankets.

"It makes me feel better to know people around the world will get help from the bad things that are happening," she said.

North Duplin sixth graders Mitchell Harper and Caleb Day came up with the idea of raising money to help send the relief packages. Harper was on the student council last year, and Day approached him with the idea. They presented the idea to Principal Wendy Cabral and she approved.

North Duplin fifth grader Kyle Sutton came up with the idea of "Hat Day," a day when the students could pay $1 for the privilege of wearing a hat to school. Hats are normally not allowed at school, and each day they wanted to wear a hat to school, they would pay another $1.

The student council set four Fridays from Jan. 28 through Feb. 17 to raise the money, which it donated to the MERCI center west of Goldsboro.

"It's wonderful how the children have such big hearts", said Dondi Byrd of the MERCI center. She said the organization has a missionary in Asia who makes sure the packages get where they want them to go.

Barbara Tripp, the director of the MERCI center, said the United Methodist Committee on Relief gathers the health kits and sends them to refugee camps around the world. But the appeal now is for the tsunami victims, she said.

"Fishing villages were wipe out there," she said. "A whole source of income wiped out. It will take them a long time to rebuild."