St. John citizens are always quick to help one in need, and their responses to the crisis in Haiti have been no different.
Across the island, Love City residents have raised money from car washes to collection jars — and students at island schools have been strongly supporting the effort as well.
Many residents have been taking advantage of Western Union’s matching donation program, which doubles the amount donated for earth quake relief. Western Union is channeling the money it raises to the American Red Cross, World Vision, Save the Children and Mercy Corps.
On Monday afternoon, January 18, Cruz Bay Watersports employees hosted a beach barbecue at the Westin Resort and Villas which raised about $400 for the relief fund.
Caneel Bay Resort staff hosted a car wash on Friday afternoon, January 22, which drew throngs of residents lined up in their cars to donate to Haiti relief.
On Saturday night, January 24, waitresses and waiters and bartenders at La Tapa, Zozo’s, Rhumb Lines, Quiet Mon Pub, Morgan’s Mango, Waterfront Bistro and Lime Inn donated a portion of their tips to the relief effort. Going even a step further, restaurant owners matched the employees’ donations, which will be doubled again by the Western Union program.
A collection jar at Papaya Cafe was filled from customers all week as well as employees’ tips. The Papaya Cafe jar garnered $482, which will be matched by Western Union.
The quick response from the island’s youngest residents has been perhaps most impressive. Students at Guy Benjamin School hosted a bake sale and donated all proceeds to the Haiti relief fund.
Julius E. Sprauve School students worked all week to raise funds through bake sales, and even saving their own pennies. Fifth grader Ezius Ashly raised $400 alone for the relief effort.
“I put in part of my savings and my mom gave me some money too,” said Ashly. “My mom, Michelle Collins, who owns the Grapevine, and Colleen Kramper also donated some money. I did it because that could have been us.”
“There are a lot of children suffering and if that happened to us, they would help us,” Ashly said.
JESS fourth grader Joel Williams raised almost $200 for the earth quake relief.
“I raised money from my parents because I saw the people in need in Haiti,” said Williams. “That made me sad and it made me want to do something. I feel like I did the right thing.”
Even JESS faculty were impressed with the outpouring of donations from students, explained the school’s vice principal Brenda Dalmida.
“There has been overwhelming generosity from our students,” said Dalmida. “We had a school meeting last week and talked about what the kids were seeing on television and we had conversations about children helping children. We talked about how people were suffering right now.”
“From kindergarten to the ninth grade, all of our students have really come through,” Dalmida said. “We first said we would throw a pizza party for the grade that raised the most money, but now we’re going to throw one big pizza party for the whole school.”
In total, JESS students raised $2,869 in only one week, which will be matched through the Western Union program.
By Saturday, January 23, St. John residents donated $18,739 to the Western Union matching fund, according to Western Union agent Cid Hamling who owns Connections.
“All that money came in just one week from this little island,” said Hamling. “I’ve always been pleased to be a Western Union agent, but now I’m really proud of all of their efforts. From the Sprauve kids to the Papaya Cafe, to Michael Beason collecting tips while he was playing music to people coming in and saying ‘I wish it could be more,’ everyone has opened their hearts.”
Connections will accept donations to the Western Union program through Monday, January 25, and the company is not charging a fee to people who are wiring money to Haiti.
For more information about the Western Union program, call Connections at 776-6922.