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L.A. schoolkids to raise money for Haiti relief

January 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Here at home, the work goes on to gather much-needed supplies for the people of Haiti. In Wilmington, some kids are making a difference.At Operation USA, there are supplies that will be on their way to Haiti Saturday morning, emergency items that need to be there immediately. All of Southern California is reaching out, trying to help the people of Haiti. Eighty-thousand students will be raising money next week, and all of it will be sent to Port-au-Prince.

It started with a simple idea: Hats for Haiti -- wear a hat for one day next week and donate one dollar or more. The idea is something that all schoolchildren can do to help raise awareness and money for those in Haiti.

"Trying to get the message across that our children can make a difference in our world, and if we're going to bring peace to our world, and we're going to build a better world, we need to start with the children, and we need to teach them moral responsibility," said April Luchonok, principal of Sacred Heart School.

About 80,000 Catholic schoolchildren are expected to participate and an anonymous donor pledged to match each dollar raised, up to $100,000. All the money raised will be wired directly to Haiti. The idea is to buy goods and supplies there.

"The people in Haiti need the help of all of us, and all the aid agencies -- Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Relief Services -- are best helped by monetary donations so that they can get what they need where it's located and get it in there right away," said Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"Now it's our turn to give them ... food, we need to give them a little bit and a little bit of money," said young student Marisol Ortiz.

Meanwhile, at Operation USA, 22 pallets of medical supplies are packed and ready. They include trauma kits, medicine and emergency supplies such as generators. United Airlines is donating cargo space and the supplies are scheduled to be shipped out Saturday morning.

"These are the priority things that need to go out now," said Bruce Brinker, Operation USA warehouse manager. "Later on, we'll be sending other equipments like the exam tables. We've got a lot of hospital equipment and things like that. That will probably go on a sea container, when it's not quite as urgent, when the rebuilding starts. But this is just to get these people healed."

After all the supplies have arrived, it is still difficult to get the items out from the airport in Port-au-Prince to the people. But there is some good news: Some of the aid is starting to get through.