WHS Students Raise Money for Haiti Through a Soccer Game, Coin Drive and Shoe Collection

Renee Abbott, News Editor

The students in Jamie O’Leary’s International Relations (IR) class have joined together to make a difference with their projects by collecting money, sneakers and other items to donate to Haiti through the Recovery and Wellness (RAW) Haiti program. Psychologist Corey Gifford spoke to the class and introduced them to the RAW program. The program’s efforts help children in Haiti gain resources to alleviate themselves out of the poverty and corruption within Haiti. With a shoe drive, fundraiser soccer game and coin drive, students engaged other members of the WHS community to better the lives of others.

“I think anytime we raise awareness and engage with the community, it’s a really positive thing,” O’Leary said. “I think that even just the idea that you can do something to make a difference and be involved is good, and I think that is super valuable to the school.”

RAW Haiti uses soccer games, yoga, music, art, dance and other programs for children to open their eyes to the possibilities of a better life, as well as provide them with resources to better their standard of living. Established in 2012, RAW Haiti has also created teamwork, leadership and youth development coaching programs to nurture Haiti’s young and provide opportunities to expand their horizons. Gifford has been to Haiti more than 20 times since 2010 and has provided consulting, programming, development and team leadership as president of RAW Haiti, in addition to working as a clinical psychologist in New Bedford.

“Dr. Gifford’s presentation gave me new perspective on not just how privileged I am, but more importantly, how easy it would be to help people that live so far away,” senior and IR student Francesca Theofilou said. “Although it was a challenge to organize this soccer game, it was a relatively small action that will hopefully have a huge impact.”

Students Molly Holbrook and Michelle Ayoub have started a coin drive, providing collection jars in various classroom, and they will donate this money to help support RAW Haiti’s athletics and development programs. Other students have also lead a shoe collection drive and have gathered over 60 pairs of used shoes so far. Two years ago, IR students led a similar coat drive for Syria, collecting 100 bags of clothes for refugees.

“We decided to do a soccer game because RAW Haiti brings many arts and sports to Haiti, but their most popular and developed by far is their soccer program. We thought it would be smart to link the soccer we have here with the goals of the charity,” Theofilou said.

Photo/ Chloe Patel

Students who attended the soccer game on Nov. 9 between WHS’s two varsity soccer teams were asked to bring in used shoes, or a five dollar donation and IR students collected $500 for RAW Haiti, as well as two boxes of donations from the game. The boys team beat the girls team, and by playing soccer, students were able to draw attention to RAW Haiti’s soccer program.

“All I want, and I think all our class wants is to spread awareness about what is going on in Haiti,” senior Emily Duseau said. “I think a lot of times people think there are other people who can help, but we really can incite change even if it is on a small scale. Anything really can help, and I think that is important to spread awareness about.”