Volunteers and students help Bill Henderson, at far left, load a container with items donated for the earthquake relief effort.
Gifft Hill School sea navigation students have been hitting the seas in style and collecting much needed items for Haitians suffering in the wake of the devastating earthquake that rattled the island nation in January.
GHS sea navigation class, taught by Bill Henderson, has been collecting canned food items, medical supplies and more for the earthquake relief effort.
“We have literally collected tons of items for Haiti,” said Henderson. “There is everything from hundreds and hundreds of pounds of rice to blood transfusion bags, linens, clothing and construction materials.”
The collected items will be sailed to Haiti by a convoy of vessels scheduled to head to the island later this month, according to Henderson.
“We’re organizing a flotilla to take the items to Haiti,” he said. “We’re talking to about a half a dozen sailors now who are interested in joining the flotilla.”
Storage on Site donated a container to hold the collection at GHS for about a month as students from every class added to the effort, Henderson explained.
“The kids were great,” he said. “Every single class participated and we had to re-pack the container three or four times because there was so much stuff. It was great.”
Last week, the sea navigation students — who usually ply the waters in Henderson’s friends boats — got a special treat.
“We had the kids in a cruise ship last week,” said Henderson. “We were supposed to go out with friends, but things didn’t work out. We were down on the dock and the cruise ship Sea Dream was in so I contacted the bridge officer and we got to go out and tour the ship.”
“It was probably about 400 to 500 feet long and they gave us a great tour,” said the GHS teacher. “The kids loved it. They took us up to the bridge and gave us a tour of all their navigation and electronic equipment.”
The sea navigation class at GHS has been a popular elective since Henderson launched it last year. About 13 different local boaters have donated their time and use of their vessels to take the students out, Henderson explained.
“We generally go out every other week on the water,” he said. “We try to have classroom time one week and then sail the next week. We’ve gone out on 13 different boats and there have been almost 30 adult volunteers who have helped with the class.”
“It’s really been a lot of fun and it’s going to continue to be because there is a lot of interest in it,” said Henderson.