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Haiti earthquake sparks outreach from Federal Way
Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake hit home for two Federal Way youngsters, who are preparing to launch a handful of fundraisers to help the victims.
Personal experience and school curriculum motivated Briahna VanTrease, 13, to hold money drives at local schools. The drives have not yet been confirmed by the school district, but once VanTrease gets the go-ahead, they will begin. Proceeds will be donated to the Haitian earthquake victims, with the help of World Vision.
Briahna's sister, Germanie, 11, who was adopted from Haiti several years ago, plans to spearhead one of the fundraisers. The girls hope to gather $10,000.
In Haiti, relief efforts and the rebuilding that will follow is expected to take years and several million dollars. All donations, big or small, are important. One person can make a difference, World Vision spokesman John Yeager said.
"All of those little bits add up and make a big difference," said Randy Strash, World Vision strategy director for emergency response.
The VanTrease's fundraising could take place at up to three schools. Efforts will likely begin at the Federal Way Technical Academy, where Briahna attends school. She is hopeful the school district and the schools' principals will approve similar drives at Star Lake Elementary and Totem Middle School. Briahna has already collected $300 from church patrons at Community of Christ in Auburn.
The school fundraising is expected to be a contest between classes. Each of the schools enforces a uniform policy. Whichever class raises the most money could be awarded a "dress freely day." Briahna is working to assemble an organizing committee for the fundraisers.
Proceeds from the money drives will be handed over to Federal Way-based World Vision. The Christian-based humanitarian organization currently has staff placed in and assisting with the recovery and relief efforts in Port au Prince. It has sent food, emergency survival kits and medical supplies, among other things.
The drives are more than good deeds. Lori VanTrease and family, in 2002, adopted Germanie. A year later, Lori's sister adopted Germanie's younger brother. The siblings have a younger sister and extended family still in Haiti, outside of its capital. The VanTrease family was concerned for their safety following news of the earthquake.
"I was thinking that my family was going to be gone and that when I was older, I wouldn't be able to go and see them," Germanie said.
After two days of waiting, a missionary in Haiti reported Germanie's family was safe, Lori said.
Check it out
Other students and schools in Federal Way are also conducting projects to help the Haitian earthquake victims.
• Enterprise Elementary, 35101 5th Ave. S.W., is doing a shoe drive. Shoes, with the exception of dress shoes, may be dropped off at the school during school hours, 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5. Those who are unable to personally drop off the shoes may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to have them picked up.