Columbia schools rally to raise money for victims

Monday, January 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Columbia students of all ages are working in their schools and with the community to raise funds and awareness for tsunami aid.

“It’s a way to teach our children about empathy and charity,” said Linda Bozoian, a fourth-grade teacher at New Haven Elementary.

Bozoian helped organize the school’s penny drive, which is called “Helping Our Neighbors in Asia.” Money is being collected in a big aquarium that was placed in the front office last week. Bozoian said it was already one-fourth full, and students are enthusiastic about donating.

“They have emptied their piggy banks, and even given up their ice cream money to the penny drive,” she said.

Lee Elementary has also organized a coin drive called “Coins for Care and Concern.” Principal Mary Sue Gibson said all proceeds will be sent to UNICEF.

Laurie Spate-Smith, a language arts teacher at Jefferson Junior High, said a number of students at the school have approached their teachers and asked them to sponsor fund-raising efforts.

“They’ve seen something on the news that reached them in ways they haven’t been before,” Smith said.

Smith, who is head of the school’s Multicultural Committee, and social studies teacher Gretchen Cleppe are organizing a schoolwide fund-raising competition to see which homeroom can raise the most money for the cause. The winning homeroom will win a catered breakfast.

Smith also said the Multicultural Committee is planning to present facts about the cultures and people of the countries affected by the disaster. Students will present this information during morning announcements.

At Columbia’s three high schools, student organizations are taking charge of fund-raising efforts.

Hickman High School’s Desi Club is holding Raas for Relief from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 29 at Hickman Commons. The event will be open to the public and will feature music, dancing and food.

A $5 donation will be requested at the door, and all proceeds will be sent to Asha for Education, Direct Relief International, and Mercy Corps. Attendees can choose which organization will receive their donation.

Rajni Chandrasekhar, club president, said the group wanted to hold an event where people could connect with others who supported the cause.

“The most important thing is to get people together and raise awareness,” Rajni said. “We need to keep this event on people’s minds.”

The Desi Club is working with Columbia’s South Asian community, as well as other organizations to get donations of food and materials for the event.

The club is also collecting money from students during lunch. Those proceeds will be divided evenly among the organizations listed above.

Students involved with Project CRIB, Douglass High School’s infant and toddler center, are heading a schoolwide fund-raiser that began earlier this week. Proceeds will be sent to UNICEF. Rock Bridge High School’s Student Council is holding a fund-raiser as well.

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