Middle school students send supplies to Haiti

A seventh-grade classroom at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School donated hygiene kits for Haiti earthquake victims. Representatives from First National Bank of Mercersburg accepted them and will send the bags, along with those collected by the bank and a church, to a national relief center. At left are people with a special interest in the project, Terry Murphy, father of Shayna, took time off from work to attend the program; teacher Tanya Forrester; and Marissa Palmer and Shayna Murphy, who took on leadership roles.

Several random events came together in one place to result in a successful campaign to aid victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.

Teresa Smith, First National Bank of Mercersburg, heard from customers and employees that they wanted to do something beyond donating money.

Smith's husband was pastor of Church of the Brethren in Cearfoss, Md., which was starting a relief project.

Shayna Murphy, a seventh-grade student at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, had a cousin serving as a Navy medic onboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort at Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Science teacher Jeff Salawage changed his curriculum to spend a week teaching students about earthquakes.

Tanya Forrester's teaching assistant Marcie Seidel learned about the bank's project collecting items for hygiene kits.

Shayna understood the power of the quake and was persistent in wanting to help the victims. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place and Forrester's classroom eagerly joined forces with the bank to gather hand towels, washcloths, combs, nail clippers, soap, toothbrushes and band-aids.

Marissa Palmer created a power point presentation to inform her fellow students about conditions in the impoverished country. "I did it to show how bad Haiti was," she said.

The classroom of approximately 25 students brought in supplies for 40 kits. "The whole class helped," said Shayna.

She obtained a video news clip which caught her cousin at work on the ship. The class as a whole made a scrapbook about the Comfort and its mission to render aid.

Forrester thanked the students for their efforts. "It shows what a difference just one person can make. That one little thing can have a big impact."

Principal Mark Herman attended the presentation of the kits to bank officials Smith and Sara Hollinshead. "This was an excellent project," he said. "This is a room full of people with a big heart. Somebody's life is a little better because of what you did."

A total of 100 kits will be sent to the church's Material Resources Service Center, which coordinates shipments to Haiti on behalf of Church World Service, IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief.