District students, parents and teachers donate $6,000 for Haiti relief effort

When Haiti shook, Varnett reacted.
Children, parents and teachers at The Varnett Public School raised and donated $6,000 to aid in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti. Touched by the shattered and lost lives caused by January's devastating earthquake, the school recently sent the money to the Clinton Bush Haiti Relief Fund.

On January 22, "Dress for Haiti Day," the charter school elementary students paid $2 to wear jeans and a red, white or blue shirt to reflect the colors of the Haiti flag. They solicited parents and teachers to join them by paying $5 or whatever they could donate.

These students do not come from well-to-do families. Many face challenges in their own lives. At Varnett, 93 percent of the student population receives free and reduced-price lunches. Nearly 60 percent are African American and 41 percent are Hispanic.

But the 1,500-student district has a mission statement, which in part says that children make "self-directed, realistic and responsible decisions" in a multi-cultural, ever-changing world. In this case, it means helping the people of Haiti.

This initiative is nothing new. Varnett students eagerly participate in numerous projects and fund-raisers to help the disadvantage.

It's important to note that the students did not forget those who are closer to home. They recognized families of Haitian descent and those with relatives living in areas of Haiti affected by the earthquake. Their names were submitted to local organizations sending food and clothing to Haiti.

The donation earned Varnett recognition on the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Facebook page.

Here's the Facebook writeup:

"Many of you have shared stories about supporting relief efforts in Haiti. Ms. Mary Kay Polly's 5th grade class in Dusseldorf, Germany raised $1,720 for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The Varnett School in Houston donated $6,000, and others have shown their support in a variety of ways. If you have a story about how you ...or someone you know is working to support Haiti, we'd like to hear it."

"This project is part of our community service effort of students giving back to their community," said Annette Cluff, school founder and superintendent.
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