te veo

My friend Dionne just shared this letter with me. She is a teacher at a school primarily composed of under-privileged kids, and she was moved to help raise funds for Heartline Haiti. I love this story of children helping other children, and what they learned about themselves:

Woodcrest Elementary School is a small school of about 500 students, located in one of the roughest parts of Fullerton-- the barrio so-to-speak . We are a predominantly Latino school. We weren't sure how a fund drive would fare in our community where involvement is dormant (at best) and especially during such rough economic times, but our Student Council was motivated to give it their best shot.

As I mentioned last week, our Student Council decided to start fundraising for Haitian orphans last Thursday and ended the campaign today. The goal was set at $1000-- a modest amount, but when 77% of our student population lives below the poverty line, $1000 is a big deal.

After last Friday's $860 tally, we realized that with four days to go in our fund drive, we'd easily exceed our goal, so on Monday morning we upped the ante and set a new goal to raise $1500 by Thursday. To our amazement, students responded to the challenge nearly doubling Friday's intake.

By Tuesday of this week students raised $1600. I was blown away by the stirring of our small, underprivileged, community's capacity for taking action.

Never in our history of fundraising efforts, have we raised that much money in such a short amount of time. NEVER! This outpouring of support for Haitian orphans was unprecedented.

Today we've raised a little over $2700 dollars in funds for Heartline Ministries and donations are still flowing in. Our preschoolers proudly drug in a manilla folder full of coins they collected. One little boy reported that he wanted to donate his money because he wanted to help the children. It was such an awe inspiring experience for me-- ordinary kids doing an extra ordinary thing.

My sixth graders have a phrase they like to use with each other: "Te veo." It's a slang term that literally means "I see you", but there is so much more meaning packed into that tiny phrase.

They say it when they feel the need to empathize with what another person is experiencing. One student might use the phrase when another shares that his dad just got deported. When the phrase is used, it denotes a sense of solidarity or a collective struggle.

My students don't have much to offer, they may be (literally) scraping together their few coins to help the Haitian children, and our donation may not be as impressive as some of the larger donations, but they gave out of need. Which is to say, "Haiti, we may not have much to give, but we will not let our own needs blind us from seeing yours. 'Te veo'."

Students pictured from left to right(bottom row): Adolfo Flores, Odalis Renteria, Brianna Segura, and Adiel Morelos; (middle row) Mrs. Dionne Sincire (ASB Advisor), Matt Correa, Ambeer Galicia, Taylor Osmus, Rebecca Tell, Ashlea Grabau, and
Mr. Ken Zeh (ASB Advisor); (top row) Kayla Palmar, Alicia Morales, Ariane Ochoa, Attabik Shah, Destanee Lamar-Muir.

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