Bayou View students help with Haiti relief

           Reashad Mullins stacks boxes that will be broken up into individual care packages and sent to International Relief and Development emergency response teams in Haiti.

GULFPORT

Having survived Hurricane Katrina, Bayou View Elementary students feel a special kinship with Haitians.

Student Council members in fourth and fifth grades were excited Thursday to help with earthquake relief efforts by packing hygiene kits that will be shipped to Haiti. Nonprofit International Relief and Development, which has an office in Gulfport, solicited donations from schools, businesses, nonprofit groups and churches.

At-risk teens in IRD’s YouthBuild program also helped gather donations at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Bayou View students got involved through their guidance counselor, Amy West, who happens to be the sister-in-law of IRD Coast Director Lori West. Amy West said she likes to involve fourth- and fifth-grade Student Council members in humanitarian projects. Student Council memberships rotate every three months, with children selected based on positive attitude, good behavior and kindness to others.

Toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, soap and other supplies awaited students who gathered in the multi-purpose building to assemble kits.

“When I first heard about it, I was sad thinking about all those people in Haiti,” said Abigail Bergin, 9. “Now we get to help them.” Abigail said her family’s home flooded in Hurricane Katrina, but has since been remodeled.

Abigail and other students remember the help they received after the 2005 hurricane. “A family in Seattle gave us toothpaste and toothbrushes,” said 9-year-old Will Robinson, whose home was destroyed. His family has resettled in another neighborhood, he said.

“Katrina was bad,” said Joseph Slade, 11, “but this earthquake is real, real bad. They have it worse than we did. They are sleeping on the ground. We didn’t have to do that.”

Meredith Bellon, 10, said she still notices the debris and vacant beach lots Katrina left, so she knows recovery in Haiti is a long way off.

“I’m glad we’re here today to help them,” Bellon said, “because they need the help.”

  Toothbrushes are among the items loaded into care packages that will be sent to the IRD emergency-response teams in Haiti.

  Anthony Crump loads a host of supplies into individual care packages which will be sent to the International Relief and Development emergency response teams in Haiti.

  Anthony Crump, left, and Jeremy Nesbit load care packages that will be sent to International Relief and Development emergency response teams in Haiti.

  Ashley Mammett and Benard Gossett of the International Relief and Development load care packages at Westminster Presbyterian Church Thursday. The packages will be sent to by IRD’s emergency response teams in Haiti.

By ANITA LEE – calee@sunherald.com

all photos by: TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD

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