Students at Yokosuka school chip in for tsunami relief
April 9, 2005
Youngsters and parents from Yokosuka Naval Base’s Sullivans Elementary School gathered to turn over the results of more than a month of fund-raising efforts to help tsunami survivors: a check for $6,053 to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF.
Student council members said they decided to do something to help the victims of the South Asia tsunamis as soon as they returned from holiday break in January, shortly after the devastation occurred.
“We were all touched by the tsunami disaster,” said Carla Hickman, literary facilitator and student council co-chair.
She and several colleagues decided to hold a fund-raiser.
Through classroom representatives and fliers home to parents they collected anything they could, from pennies and yen to checks.
“We didn’t care. We would take it,” Hickman said.
Students broke open piggy banks and parents matched their efforts, she said.
When it was over, they had collected more than $2,000 in cash and twice that in checks — some from people who didn’t even have children at the school.
“It just came pouring in; it was amazing,” Hickman said.
On Wednesday, members of the student council and school representatives handed a check to Tatsuru Mikami, deputy general manager of the School Education and Youth Development division of UNICEF in Tokyo.
Several children gave prepared statements about why the fund-raising was important to them.
“It means a lot to me to be able to give money and help to the tsunami survivors and victims,” said fifth-grader Alex Goodman. “Those children have been through a lot and it’s amazing how they have survived.”
Student council secretary and third-grader Drew Mack said: “I know money can’t buy back the lost people, but it can buy back a home, a clean place to sleep and food. When I was collecting the money, I thought about if this were me.”
Hickman said they choose UNICEF from a variety of charities.
“Since we’re a school, we wanted to donate to a children’s fund,” she said. “They’re still working in all the affected countries in the area.”
School leaders learned that $5 donated to the organization could buy a month’s supply of emergency health aid; $17 could immunize a child against disease and $40 could provide blankets for 10 small children, Hickman said.
Mikami told the school that in South Asia, the organization is providing basic survival items such as food and clean water, helping families reunite and offering supplies in the form of an education-in-a-box, since many schools were destroyed.
The student council collects money for charity each year. Last fall, it donated $1,000 to earthquake survivors in Niigata Prefecture.
The council is made up of two representatives from 33 classes — 66 students — from third to fifth grade.
“Our student council tries to reach out,” Hickman said. “We tried to show our children that student council is more than just fun. We’re all about service.”