Charter school students collect items for Haiti

Donations to help island still struggling to recover from earthquake

It has been nearly two years since a devastating earthquake hit the Caribbean nation of Haiti, killing nearly 100,000 residents and leaving more than a million homeless. The 7.0 earthquake created a humanitarian crisis in and around Léogâne, Haiti, that continues to this day, a crisis that grade school students in Jersey City are helping to meet.
For the second year in a row, students from Jersey City’s Ethical Community Charter School are collecting donations and assembling care packages for 200 Haitian families who were affected by the earthquake, which hit on Jan. 12, 2010.
“We thought this would be a worthwhile project for our students, since it will increase their awareness of our global community, while building empathy and upholding our ideal of service as a part of their ethical education,” said Principal Marta Bergamini. “Most importantly, it was student-initiated and highlighted the importance of not forgetting a region that has been so severely impacted.”

‘We thought this would be a worthwhile project for our students. It [increases] their awareness of our global community.’ – Marta Bergamini
For the fund-raiser, students were asked earlier this month to bring in items for hygiene kits, such as washcloths, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other toiletries. In addition, the students collected gifts that can be distributed to Haitian children, including crayons, markers, plastic animals, hair accessories, small dolls or action figures, and jumping jacks.
As students brought in these items, faculty members sorted them into boxes. Students were scheduled to prepare the donations for shipment on Friday, Oct. 21.
The project is being coordinated in conjunction with the Chester, New Jersey-based Dayspring Ministries, which will send the care packages to Haiti on behalf of the charter school students.
This isn’t the first year that Ethical Community Charter School have organized a fundraiser for international relief.
Each year, as part of the school’s ethics program, students at the charter school participate in a school-wide project to help others in need.
The charter school, located near Journal Square, has a curriculum that emphasizes ethics, public service, and social justice. These principles, according to Marta Bergamini, “infuse” every aspect of school life in the hope that they will encourage the students to become socially productive adults, workers, and community leaders.
Last school year, for two weeks, the students cooperated with the organization Students Rebuild on a “Paper Cranes for Japan” project, an initiative that provided relief to victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Through that effort students helped to raise $200,000 for families in Japan.
During the Paper Cranes project, a second grader asked ethics teacher Geoffrey Renaud, “Why we weren’t doing anything to help Haiti recover from their earthquake,” he recalled. “That is how this current project was conceived. [More recently], another student has asked to focus on helping people close to home who were affected by Hurricane Irene, and we will also look to develop a project for that need as well.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group