Charity comes in many shapes and forms. And when people see a need to help their fellow man out, the human spirit reaches its pinnacle no matter what age, nationality or economic status.
The world stood by in August and watched as the Philippines Islands became devastated by days of deadly flooding. Heavy monsoon rains created by Tropical Storm Trami caused flooding and landslides in 11 provinces and Manila. At least 16 deaths were reported and more than 300,000 people sought refuge in evacuation centers and in the homes of friends and family members who were not hit by the storm.
One of those people watching the devastation from thousands of miles away was veteran Gate City coach Stan Rogers.
“When I saw the devastation on TV one morning, I watched an interview of this lady who had just lost everything and it just touched my heart,” said Rogers. “At school that day, I was talking about it with my middle school PE class that and just mentioned that we could do something to help out.”
Three students in particular – eight graders Matthew Butte, Olivia Addington and Audrey Baker – approached Rogers and expressed that they would like to help come up with a campaign to raise money for the flood victims in the Philippines. Butte is a student in Rogers’ PE class. Addington and Baker are students in Kelly Houseright’s PE class.
“Matthew came up to me and asked what we could do. I said we could pray but action is the only way we can really help these people. We’re put on this earth to serve,” said Rogers. “So these kids organized, set a date, started a campaign and got to work. I was just a sponsor. The kids did all the work.”
The students set a goal of raising $1,000 and exceeded that goal through very simple means. Butte, along with Addington and Baker, joined with other students and placed jars and buckets in classrooms, offices and other areas of the Gate City Middle School/High School complex to collect money, while school administrators supported the effort with daily announcements beginning the first week in December.
Students also put flyers up around the school to let people know that their donations were going to help relief efforts in the Philippines.
Athletic teams and clubs like Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) were also involved. For every dollar that a team or club raised, local businesses and individuals were asked by Rogers to match, so the students involved the entire community and raised more than $1,100 in less than two weeks.
“We basically just set up jars and posted flyers throughout the school,” explained Addington. “Everyone jumped on board and the teachers really helped out a lot as well.”
After raising the money, the students decided to give the money to Oxfam America in order to utilize the funds in an appropriate manner.
“We chose Oxfam America because it has been recognized as being trustable and reliable to help people throughout the world with problems like this,” said Butte.
Oxfam America is a global organization that works to end poverty, hunger and injustice throughout the world. They develop long-term solutions to poverty, social change and global emergencies.
Last week the students collected all of the funds and turned them over to administrators in order to send a check to Oxfam.
Food, destroyed infrastructure and displaced people are still a major concern in the Philippines. Other organizations that involved in relief efforts include The American Red Cross, UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army and many others.
So during this time of goodwill when many people are fortunate enough to have food, shelter and loved ones close by, lessons of charity, caring and kindness are still being taught to help those in need and less fortunate.