vendredi 23 août 2013

Calverton siblings help Haitian students get ready for school

Collected nearly 1,000 back-to-school items
Even as young children, Joseline “Josi” Pretto Simmons, 9, and her brother, Jeremie, 7, already have been volunteering and donating their time to philanthropic causes for years.
This summer, the pair collected almost 1,000 new back-to-school items for children in Haiti. With help from local businesses, The Calverton School siblings found a way to give back to the place from where their family originated.
“I’ve been raising money and materials ever since the earthquake in 2010 because I really wanted to give to the people in Haiti,” Josi said.
In 2010, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killed more than 200,000 people and left more than 1.5 million people homeless, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Their involvement with Haiti has been over the course of the last three years,” Nance Pretto Simmons, mother of Josi and Jeremie, said. “It started when there was the earthquake, and our family is from Haiti. She said we have to do something to help them … every year, they have committed themselves to do something to help Haiti.”
Josi and Jeremie went to local businesses, gave letters to managers detailing their requests and received donations and positive feedback from every store, the family said.
Five hundred spiral and composition notebooks, 200 pocket folders and 250 pencils were donated by Office Depot in Prince Frederick, Staples in California, Md., and Kmart in Prince Frederick. The items are scheduled to be shipped today to Lebrun, Haiti, for when school starts in September.
“It made us feel good that [the store managers] wanted to help us help other people,” Josi said.
In 2012, Josi and Jeremie traveled to Haiti on a youth mission trip. The pair assisted with projects including English literacy, music development, character education, sports development and construction of a community earth oven, Pretto Simmons said. The children saw first hand the devastation that was still present for so many Haitians.
“It made me feel sad because all of these good people’s things were ruined and they can’t afford to fix it,” Josi said. “They’re not choosing to live that way; it is because something terrible happened to them.”
After their return home, Josi and Jeremie started a book collection project that donates new and gently used children’s books to help establish community-based libraries in underprivileged villages in Haiti, Pretto Simmons said. The pair donated several hundred books that were the first additions to a new library in Lebrun, Haiti, in 2012, she added.
“It was an important trip because I met a lot of people and I got to help them,” Josi said. “It was really cool to see them smiling and laughing because of the fun stuff we did with them.”
Josi is also an avid ice skater and has dedicated many skating tributes and skate-a-thons to raise funds for Haiti. Josi said ice skating provides her a way to express her emotions as well as help others.
“Josi and Jeremie have such big hearts for such small children,” Pretto Simmons said. “I am always so inspired by their ever-growing kindness and compassion for others. It lets me know there is still hope.”

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