McCool 6th grader works to help people of Haiti - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

McCool 6th grader works to help people of Haiti

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by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - It's been just over one month since Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands, left over a million people homeless, and hundreds of thousands more injured.  In one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, the threat of fundraising fatigue in the aftermath of last month's 7.1 earthquake may prevent Haiti from becoming a self-sustaining nation. 

Thus decisions made today will have a lasting impact on its future. 11 year-old Kiana Rodriguez is a 6th grader at the Commander William C. McCool School on Big Navy. When she caught wind of the earthquake, it struck a chord very close to home.

Kiana visited Haiti just three years ago on a family vacation, and says news of the calamitous quake that struck Port-Au-Prince on January 12 left her feeling vulnerable, but not helpless.  "I visited there and it's really pretty, especially the beaches and the people are really nice. If I was in an earthquake, I would want people to send me clothes and money," she said.

Conditions on the ground remain dire - a shortage of food, water and shelter as well as limited access to medical treatment has prompted a global humanitarian outpouring of aid and assistance. NGOs and non-profits around the world have been fundraising non-stop, but Kiana wanted to help in her own way.

"I was gonna send clothes to Haiti, but they wouldn't let me because they don't accept clothes. So what I was going to do is get clothes together and sell them to see how much money I can get and put it into a check and give it to the red cross and send it to Haiti," she said.

After holding a garage sale this past weekend, Kiana raised $840, which she will donate to the American Red Cross. Kiana's mother, Holly Rodriguez, says it was a pleasant surprise to watch her daughter become involved.  "My daughter is pretty spoiled and gets everything she wants so it made me feel good. It made me realize at least she still cares about the less fortunate," she said.

Principal of the William C. McCool School, Don Christensen says he was impressed with students across the board who took it upon themselves to give back.  "We have some other student organizations doing some fundraising for Haiti relief, but she really took it on and was one of the first ones to come forward and say I really want to do this," he said.

Holly says her daughter definitely does not suffer from compassion fatigue, saying, "This particular incident because she's actually been to Haiti before. We went on a cruise and have been to the island so she realizes it could happen to us here. We were stationed here before when Pongsona hit, so she remembers what it was like not to have power and water for like 60 days but even then it was a lot easier than they have it over there."

Although Kiana was just $150 shy of her $1,000 goal, she says she's happy knowing whatever she can donate will make a difference. If you would still like to donate and support the people of Haiti, the Red Cross of Guam is still accepting donations. If you are seeking information about friends or family members in Haiti, you are advised to call the U.S. State Department's Operations Center at 1-888-407-4747.

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