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 Local News - Thursday, February 3, 2005

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Students raise thousands for tsunami aid


Journal Staff


Photo
Photos by SIMON WHEELER/Journal Staff

Angelina Torchia, front, enjoys reading a copy of "My Ho Ho Horrible Christmas" as she and Paloma McKinley, center, look for books at a book sale held to raise money for tsunami relief. The sale was organized by the fourth-grade class at South Hill Elementary School in Ithaca. Teacher Eric Miller and resource room teacher Marcie Kidd, right, look through the selection of donated books for sale. The event raised $666.85 through the sale of 1,064 donated books.


Photo

Lucas DeVries, a third-grade student at South Hill Elementary, works with one of his teachers, Allison Deutsch Andersen, to add up the cost of a customer's purchases at the book sale.



CU grad student conducts relief in hometown

By ANNE JU

Journal Staff

ITHACA -- A Cornell University graduate student from Indonesia who lost several family members in the tsunamis has received an outpouring of financial support from local enclaves, including schools.

The fund-raising on behalf of Saiful Mahdi, who is currently in Indonesia doing relief work, has raised more than $68,000. Details are available on a Web site chronicling Mahdi's efforts, http://www.acehrelief.org/ Mahdi is from the Aceh province of Indonesia -- just 90 miles from the epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck on Dec. 26.

Mazalan Kamis, a postdoctoral student at Cornell and friend of Mahdi, started collecting donations on behalf of Mahdi shortly after Mahdi heard the grim news about his family.

"We still welcome fund-raising on our behalf," Kamis said. "We are small but effective. It goes direct to the people."

Along with many relief supplies, the money has also gone to reopening a school that Mahdi himself helped establish several years ago, according to Kamis.

The support around Mahdi has especially moved students and staff at Northeast Elementary School, where Mahdi's children attend school.

This month, two Northeast teachers, Kelly Craft and Kari Krako, plan to visit the Aceh province to bring supplies to Mahdi, according to principal Jeff Tomasik.

"We hope to set up some kind of cultural exchange between Northeast and this school," Tomasik said.

In a Jan. 29 e-mail to The Ithaca Journal, Mahdi reported that "relief works are progressing," and the spread of disease seems to be under control in his area.

"There were some reports on scattered incidence of tetanus and diarrhea, but not cholera," he wrote. "Thanks to enough bottled water supplied by many parties."

Mahdi also said there is a significant need to boost local participation and initiatives, and said he is working on consolidating grassroots relief efforts.

As for news of Mahdi's family, he spent his first four days after arriving in Aceh on Jan. 6 on a "personal quest" searching for lost loved ones. But he's since reduced that quest and is doing more for the community, he wrote.

"So far, I have no other findings about my sister and her family, my youngest brother, and my grandma and cousins," Mahdi wrote. All evidence he's found of his sister is an ID card from her wallet, he wrote.

To continue supporting Mahdi's efforts, visit http://www.acehrelief.org/ for more information.

Contact: aju@ithaca.gannett.com


ITHACA -- About $4 billion has been donated worldwide in disaster relief for as many as 150,000 South Asian tsunami victims, and area school districts have done their part.

Countless students in Tompkins County and surrounding school districts collected change, recycled cans, sold concert tickets and baked brownies to the tune of thousands of dollars of relief money for tsunami victims since the killer waves hit the day after Christmas.

"I am so impressed that it was done in such a short time," said Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services Deputy Superintendent Doug Chappell, of the money raised through that school. "It got such a wonderful community response."

Through various efforts including a Students for Tsunami Relief concert, the BOCES students alone raised about $14,000. They'll be sending the money to four separate relief organizations, according to Chappell.

Many students, particularly the older ones, put their individual talents to use.

At the BOCES cosmetology school, students held a fund-raising clinic on two evenings in January, organized by teachers Carol McCoy and Andrea Perkins. Services such as pedicures and facials went for $12, while haircuts and manicures went for $5.

The students were busy attending to about 60 customers, said Whitney Nash, 17.

After raising $479 that night, the students wanted to send an even $500 to the BOCES account for tsunami relief.

"So they looked in their pockets and purses for change and came up with the additional $21," McCoy said.

Amber Wood, 19, said she was glad to chip in her haircutting and nail-polishing skills.

"Financially, I couldn't really help them out, so I thought I could help in some way by doing the clinic," she said.

Ithaca High School senior Hannah Amsili decided to make red bracelets out of string to sell for donations to the Red Cross, along the theme of the popular "LIVESTRONG" Lance Armstrong bracelets. She made $416.27.

"It was a huge success," she said.

Some teachers also spearheaded efforts in their classrooms. South Hill Elementary School teachers Allison Deutsch Andersen and Eric Miller helped their third-graders set up a used book drive, which garnered $670.

In other schoolwide efforts, penny and change drives were common, and doubled as an opportunity to practice counting change for younger students.

The 900-student Candor Central School District raised exactly $2,321.41 in loose change -- mostly pennies --in a two-week drive that ended last Friday, said librarian Debbie Collier, who organized the drive.

"It was gargantuan," Collier said. "The kids figured out that it was about half a ton of pennies." She also said some of the kids gave up their tooth fairy money, or their snack milk money for the week.

"I think this was really significant because it came from the kids, caring about somebody, and doing something about it," Collier said.

The zeal caught on to others who even tried things like dying their hair pink -- for a change.

Lansing Middle School principal John Gizzi was the lucky one, according to teacher and student council advisor Maureen Trowbridge.

Challenging the students to get 75 percent of the student body to participate in a "hat day" in which kids wore hats to school for a $1, Gizzi promised to do the colorful deed.

When the students delivered, Gizzi did the same.

"He came in Tuesday and did a two-month dye kind of thing," Trowbridge said.

Contact: aju@ithaca.gannett.com

Originally published Thursday, February 3, 2005

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