On December 18, 2014 the Middle School Student Council at Wooster School in Danbury Connecticut ran a very successful Holiday Shopping Bazaar to support the work of Hands Up For Haiti. The volunteers who travel to Haiti with Hands Up for Haiti on our medical missions become our best ambassadors. Last October, Dr. Eliot Barsh, a pediatrician in the Mt. Kisco Medical Group went on his first mission with fellow pediatrician, Dr. Allison Platt.
It was a life changing trip for Dr. Barsh and he shared his amazing story with his whole family, and with Gaynor O’Neill, the Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Middle School, where his son, Jack is an eighth grader and his daughter Sue Ann is in the High School. Dr. Barsh’s wife, Pam Genet was key to helping the children, and teachers understand the extent of what her husband had done and seen in Haiti.
Wooster School is an independent day school that promotes the attributes of being “gentle, generous, truthful, kind, and brave”. To help reinforce these ideals for students the school seeks out charitable opportunities and ways to promote cross -cultural understanding. In her advisory role, Ms. O’Neill, shared with the Student Council her conversation with Dr.Barsh. As a result, the Student Council chose to donate the proceeds from the 2014 Wooster Holiday Bazaar to Hands Up For Haiti.
The Holiday Bazaar was set up in a hallway with six 8 foot tables displaying all of the donated merchandise plus a free wrapping station with moms in charge. More tables sold freshly made waffles with a choice of toppings, an industrial strength popcorn maker and a variety of flavors one could squeeze onto a freshly made snow-cone. Shoppers were the school’s student body, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The merchandise, popcorn, whipped cream, wrapping material and much more was donated by parents. Some moms left the school to shop for items that could quickly restock the tables. Not suprising, Pam was on the scene, from start of the project to finish.
Dr. Barsh and Dr. Ratner did presentations for the students on what life in Haiti is like, and showed the students the work done by the doctors, nurses, and other volunteers who 10 times a year travel on one week medical missions. The children watched the images of the slide presentation as Dr. Ratner described the poverty in Haiti and what the donated money would buy. The students understood that their fun time at the bazaar and the funds raised help pay for life saving malnutrition supplements for children who were severely malnourished and allowed the organization to buy equipment to teach newborn resuscitation to traditional birth attendants.
The entire school community of The Wooster School came together to create this successful event which raised over $1700. On February 13th the Student Council, with the entireMiddle School in attendance, presented a check to Dr. Jill Ratner, co-founder of Hands up for Haiti, for $1736.
For Drs. Barsh and Ratner it was an amazing and heartwarming example of the power of connections to help others and to highlight the mission of Hands Up for Haiti. The school has already begun to think about ways to brainstorm and partner with Hands Up for Haiti again next year. The children were really able to see that together they could really make a difference in the lives of children in Haiti. The experience of Haiti goes beyond the volunteer and the one week they spend on the ground. They carry it back to their families, and community.