Canadian schools lend support to Haiti

By 
  • January 29, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - When Grade 9 student Jeremy Addoty spoke at a service in front of students and teachers at Brampton’s Cardinal Ambrozic High School, he appealed for prayers for missing relatives and those who survived the devastating Haitian earthquake.

Haitian-born St. Ignatius of Loyola High School teacher Pierre-Michel Laveau is also doing what he can to help friends and family cope after the disaster by sending money to those in need.

Like Addoty, Laveau is the only one with Haitian roots in his school. But Laveau says although the Haitian community in Toronto is small, it is finding strength and solace in the support from local school communities as they rally to raise funds for Haitian relief.

Addoty said the disaster has hit his family hard but they are coping with it together. After giving his talk, he said other students and teachers expressed sympathy and concern.

“Now, I feel that everyone knows, everyone’s aware, and I’m sure that everyone has our back,” said the Grade 9 student.

Cardinal Ambrozic High School has raised $1,500 for the Haiti earthquake relief.

At Mississauga’s Loyola, Laveau said in addition to the $1,300 raised by students and teachers, he also felt the community’s support after the school held a special Mass for Haiti.

His friends in Haiti are updating him about the situation, including passing along names of those who need help. Laveau phoned his cousin, who survived and has a house in Port-au-Prince, to ask if she could take in other survivors, including two children, now without a home. Laveau has wired money to friends in Haiti so they can buy phone credits to let them stay in contact by phone.

At Burlington’s St. Paul’s Elementary School, Grade 8 student Connor Di Pietro is one of eight students who will have his head shaved for Haiti relief. The Grade 8 Mission Club challenged students to raise funds for Haiti, with some students volunteering to shave their heads at a Jan. 29 assembly if the school reached $1,000. In one day, it raised $1,200. Four teachers have also volunteered to shave their heads if the school could reach $1,500 in donations.

For Ottawa’s St. Daniel Elementary School, news of the tragedy hit home when its long-time custodian, Jean-Claude St. Fort, worried for days about his siblings in Haiti. Two of them were found alive a week after the earthquake.

Principal Elizabeth Dean said students and staff were concerned for St. Fort’s family. Within 24 hours, staff raised $1,500 for them.

At Convent Glen Catholic Elementary School in Ottawa, Grade 6 students prepared a PowerPoint presentation for a school assembly, showing Haiti before and after the earthquake, minus the grisly images. The last slide showed a cross left standing in the midst of the rubble, showing the resilience of people’s faith. The school raised $1,050 for the Red Cross and is continuing its fundraising with pizza lunches, Gum Day and Crazy Hat day.

Donations to aid in Haiti relief can be made to ShareLife at www.sharelife.org or by calling 1-800-263-2595, or through the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace at www.devp.org or call 1-888-234-8533.

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