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Raising Money for Clean Water at Haiti Sister School

Children in a Port Au Prince school in Haiti will enjoy clean drinking water for a year through the work of 78 Breton Downs Elementary School fifth-grade students who transformed their gym into a giant garage sale. 

Students dug into toy boxes and basements and scanned bookshelves to prepare for the sale, which brought out shoppers including peers, parents and community members. All earnings benefited the Power of Education, a global outreach program in Haiti, for the purchase water purification drops. It was an easy way to make a difference in the lives of others, they said.

Student Abbie Green spread out an array of toys, books, bracelets, magnets and jigsaw puzzles collected from her basement and from her neighbor. “I am excited. The money raised will go to Haiti so the people can have fresh water that won’t make them ill,” she said.

Power of Education, a Grand Rapids-based non-profit organization, provides access to quality education in developing countries as well as medical and nutritional support, teacher training and parent education. The organization runs a primary school in Port au Prince, Haiti, that serves students who would otherwise not have access to a school. All families attending the school will receive the water purification drops.   From left, Matthew Stein, Will Robson and James Roberts participate in the sale

Breton Downs has worked on several projects this year to support Power of Education, said Jen Masternak, director of School to School Partnerships for the organization. Masternak has visited Breton Downs several times throughout the year to give lessons on Haiti, the Port au Prince school, and water.

Students have hosted a vitamin drive and collected more than 20,000 vitamins for Haitian students; created two 5-by-10-foot canvas murals, one for the school in Haiti and one for Breton Downs; and hosted a movie night with all proceeds going to the school’s lunch program. Students in other grades at Breton Downs also worked this year to raise money for the water purification drops.

Masternak said about 50 percent of Haitians do not have a clean source of drinking water.

The water purification drops are from a Grand Rapids-based company, Clean Water Environmental.  They cost $1 per bottle, with enough in each bottle to last a family one to two months, depending on family size. Breton Downs students raised enough money to provide these drops to all of Haitian families for a full year.  

At the sale Megan Tinerella sold videos, books and other items her grandmother contributed. “It’s going to a really good cause. They need freshwater in order to live.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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