By Bryan Boggiano
The Coral Springs Charter School community stepped up to help victims of the August earthquake in Haiti with a fundraiser for one of their parent’s relief efforts.
Michael Wilson has lived in Coral Springs for 21 years, and three of his sons graduated from Coral Springs Charter. His youngest son is a senior.
For him, the tragedy is personal.
His wife, Marjorie, is from Les Anglais, near the southwestern tip, and he spent 31 years living and working in Haiti. Les Anglais experienced significant devastation after Category 4 Hurricane Matthew lashed the town only five years before the earthquake.
It is also the site of the Immaculate Conception Church where Marjorie’s paternal and maternal grandparents got married. It is where she was baptized and where the family celebrated her dad’s funeral mass.
According to Michael, on Aug. 14, the church was full of families gathered to celebrate a baptism mass.
Then, the earthquake struck, immediately trapping worshippers beneath the rubble. According to Wilson, more than 20 people were killed.
When Wilson visited Les Anglais, he met with 18 families who lost loved ones when the church collapsed.
He met an older man whose daughter and granddaughter died. There was a 21-year-old mother who lost both her husband and her baby. A young woman was dragged from under the rubble, still cradling the body of her two-year-old son.
“It was an extremely emotional time,” he said. “It was the first time anyone had reached out to them and acknowledged their loss and shared their grief. They were so moved that people from a faraway place, who they would most likely never meet, were thinking of them.”
Before visiting Haiti, Sow A Seed reached out to Wilson. He previously volunteered with them, and they knew that his wife was from Haiti.
Wilson sent out a text message to almost everybody on his contact list about Sow A Seed, including several Coral Springs Charter staff and faculty.
“That’s the beauty of a school like CSCS,” Wilson said. “People are accessible. It really is a family-like atmosphere. And CSCS responded like family.”
Wilson contacted Charles Thompson, Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) advisor and athletic trainer.
Thompson then reached out to Kate Hearn, athletic director, and cross country coach, and planned a Jeans Day fundraiser on Sept. 3. Instead of wearing their uniform shorts or pants, students could wear jeans and donate $2 at the front door.
But many students donated more than $2, and the school received donations from students who did not wear jeans, including one who donated $20. One staff member gave $50. The cross country, girl’s basketball, and baseball teams donated $100, and HOSA donated $200.
On HOSA’s donation, Thompson said, “This was a great opportunity for members to realize the impact they could have on the well-being of others.”
The school raised $1,660 to supply emergency kits that Wilson distributed to families affected. With Sow a Seed, Wilson distributed 405 kits, including emergency food supplies, essential health and hygiene items, masks, tarps, and 150 kids kits with crayons, coloring books, toys, and candy.
One teacher, who is Haitian with family back home, helped pack kits on distribution day.
Through Sow A Seed and his wife Marjorie, they developed a list of families most in need of supplies, including families from the church, families who lost their homes, and the elderly.
“They were so moved that people from a faraway place, who they would most likely never meet, were thinking of them,” Michael said. “I shared with them how the CSCS family now included them. More than the kits we gave them that day, they appreciated knowing they were not alone in their pain.”
Wilson expressed thanks to Coral Springs Charter for their help. He said that any deed, no matter how small, can impact several lives.
“Something as simple as a $2 donation at a high school jeans day has an impact that crosses borders, politics, languages, and all sorts of supposed barriers.”
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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