Teenagers. The word strikes fear into parents everywhere. Mind of their own, sometimes sullen, rebellious and … inspiring?
In the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, a group of about 30 high school students defied the stereotype of what a teenager can be by springing into action. The Naples High School (Florida) club, Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP) started making a difference by collecting donations from fellow students and faculty. And their giving hasn’t stopped. With JustGive’s help, they’re creating a lasting impact.
Giving Back to Haiti
Challenged by a promise from their sponsor and high school teacher Cynthia Odierna to match their fundraising, the group raised $400 that Odierna turned into $800. “Our students have helped Haiti for years,” she explains. “This last fall, STOP members gave at a grassroots, local level (through a homeless shelter), but after the earthquake, they wanted to do more.”
Senior Carmela Zabala, co-president of STOP, explains why giving back is so important, “Everything bad seems to happen to Haiti. It’s a poor country that’s had a lot of conflict. The earthquake gave us an immediate reason to help. Right now, with all that’s going on, the need is so great.”
STOP members collected clothing, medical supplies, and teddy bears for Haiti, enlisted community support, and recruited other clubs at Naples High. They have organized events each month to continue to give for Haiti:
>>>>>In January, STOP joined Kids Against Hunger and packaged 518,000 meals for Haiti.
>>>>>The Student Government Association’s dunk tank and ROTC’s penny wars added to their Valentine’s fundraising efforts in February.
>>>>>Car washes scheduled in March and April.
>>>>>And a big Concert for the Cause is on tap for April 19.
Helping their gift do more
In finding JustGive, the students turned their $800 donation each month into $1,200 through our $25,000 matching campaign. Those funds will go directly to help their chosen nonprofits, Partners in Health (link) and Oxfam America (link) rebuild the services and infrastructure of Haiti.
“When I heard about the matching money, I thought it was awesome,” Zabala told JustGive. “(Raising the money each month) is definitely challenging, but it has helped us get more done and driven more students to help.”
When JustGive started the monthly matching campaign, we wanted to help Haiti beyond just the immediate needs from the earthquake. We wanted to encourage others to join us and support the long-term recovery of the county. We’ve found a great partner in the students of STOP. They care enough to give for immediate relief, but are also dedicated to rebuilding Haiti.
More than two months after the earthquake, the Haitian people are still digging out. Most nonprofits haven’t even been able to start rebuilding. That’s why I’m so inspired by the students of Naples High School. They understand the need to continue giving, and to help nonprofits that are in it for the long haul. They providing hope for Haiti’s future. And I’m proud we’re able to help them.
Now there’s an inspiring story about teenagers to share with your friends —especially parents who have high schoolers of their own.
If more students across the U.S. followed the example of the Naples High STOP members, can you imagine how much donations for Haiti’s recovery could do?