Search form

Kids Can Help Too


Children in the United States and around the world have responded to reports of the recent tsunami in Asia by contributing to the relief efforts in record numbers -- and in unique ways. Learn what they're doing -- and how your students can help too. Included: Where and how to contribute to tsunami victims.

On Sunday, December 26, 2004, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred deep beneath the Indian Ocean, about 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake triggered tsunami (giant waves) that killed more than 150,000 people living and vacationing in countries with coastlines on the Indian Ocean, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maldives, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Seychelles and Kenya.

The deaths and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami triggered a massive, worldwide wave of generosity -- and, so far, more than $10 billion in financial aid. The funds have come from countries, businesses, and individuals.

Australia, many of whose residents vacation in Indonesia, has pledged more than $800 million in tsunami relief. Germany has pledged more than $600 million, and Japan, $500 million. The United States has donated $350 million in financial aid, and is providing military supplies and personnel at an additional cost of $5 million a day.

Many large corporations also have pledged millions of dollars in company funds and employee contributions to the relief effort. According to U.S. firms helping tsunami victims, an article at CNNMoney, such companies as American Express, Cisco Systems, Citigroup, Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Merrill Lynch, and others each have pledged at least $1 million in aid.

What Are You Doing?
Is your class raising money for victims of the Asia tsunami? Share your experiences on an Education World message board.

Other companies, including Apple Computer, Amazon, and Yahoo, are encouraging individual donations by allowing visitors to donate through their company Web sites. At eBay, individual donors can help by dropping off used cameras, computers, and other consumer electronics at a UPS store. UPS will ship the items to eBay's AuctionDrop, where they'll be sold and the proceeds donated to CARE's Earthquake and Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Fund. eBay users also can donate through the site's Giving Works program, which allows sellers to donate a percentage of an item's sale price to charity.

It's estimated that in the United States alone, individuals will donate more than $200 million to victims of the tsunami; possibly as much as the $2 billion donated following the attacks of 9/11.


UNICEF reports that one third to one half of the victims killed in the tsunami were children. Many more were orphaned by the disaster. Early estimates indicate that up to 1.5 million children were affected. Children in the United States and around the world have responded to those reports by helping the tsunami' youngest victims in record numbers -- and in unique ways.

In Havertown, Pennsylvania, for example, 7-year-old Jesse Taconelli decided to raise money for tsunami victims by asking contributors to count their blessings and calculate their donations based on the results. Jesse developed a questionnaire containing such questions as "How many pillows are on your bed?" and "How many people say 'I love you' to you every day?," suggesting a donation of $1 for every blessing on the list. He raised more than $1,000 the first week. Jesse, who plans to donate the funds to Save the Children, also convinced local stores to donate $5,000 worth of teddy bears for youngsters affected by the tsunami.

Also in Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia's Edwin Forrest Elementary School, K-5 students held a School Spirit Day to raise money for tsunami victims. According to vice principal Dennis Gold, the effort was part of a school-wide effective behavior plan (SWEBS), in which students receive a PEACEFUL dollar (a copy of a real dollar with the word PEACEFUL and the school mascot's picture in the center) for anything they do that is "positive, nice, or unusual." On January 14, students, who wore the colors or logo of a Philadelphia sports team instead of their usual school uniforms, received a PEACEFUL dollar for every real dollar they donated to the tsunami relief effort. The Philadelphia Flyers hockey team donated a hockey puck and team picture to be raffled off at the event; the names of the winners were picked from a jar of PEACEFUL dollars of those who contributed. The kindergarten classroom that collected the most money will be rewarded for their accomplishment with a special event and refreshments. Altogether, Forrest students, faculty, and families collected a total of $2,579.000, which will be given to the American Red Cross.

In Connecticut, the Canton High School National Honor Society sponsored a "dress down" day as part of their tsunami relief efforts. On a recent Friday, students paid a dollar to wear pajama bottoms to school; teachers paid $5 to wear jeans. The more than $3000 raised by the event will be donated to AmeriCares.

Students at Providence Elementary School in Winchester, Kentucky, dressed up for their fundraising event. They held a "Crazy Dress Up Day" when, for a donation of a dollar or more, kids could wear to school any wacky outfit they wanted. The proceeds of that event also will go to Save the Children.

A Lesson in Giving
If your students are contributing to tsunami relief efforts, use the opportunity to also teach students a lesson about giving wisely. Students at one Connecticut school were about to donate the proceeds from their fundraising efforts to an online appeal when the state's attorney general stepped in. Apparently, the Web site was a scam. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal warned students to donate their money to established organizations, such as those on the list of Agencies Accepting Contributions to Help Tsunami Victims provided by ABC News. The Better Business Bureau also offers Tips on Tsunami Relief Appeals that are worth reading with your students before you donate.

Other schools are participating in fundraising efforts developed by national relief organizations. Students at The Henry Street School for International Studies in New York City, for example, are attempting to raise $4000 through Quarters from Kids, a Web site that provides the opportunity for America's young people and the adults who work with them to contribute to victims of the tsunami disaster. More than 100 organizations dedicated to children have combined their resources to collect quarters, dimes, and dollars from America's youth.

In a similar fundraising effort, the American Red Cross's Donate Spare Change campaign encourages donors to bring their spare change to Coinstar machines located in the nation's grocery stores. The site notes that "if only half of the American living within 2 miles of a Coinstar machine donated $1 in spare change, more than $65 million would be raised" for Red Cross relief efforts.

In Naperville, Illinois, students are collecting their loose change for the Do Something Kids Tsunami Relief Fund. Do Something, an organization that encourages young people to contribute to their communities, notes that, in India, donors often give an extra $1 for good luck. In the same spirit, the Do Something: Kids Tsunami Relief Fund plans to raise $1,000,001 to help victims of the tsunami. More than $100,000 has been raised so far.

For more fundraising ideas for kids, as well as lesson plans, download Save the Children's tsunami fundraising kit, or Save the Children Canada Tsunami Teaching Tools. Or visit one of the following Web sites:


At Kids Can Make a Difference, officials hope the generosity displayed by kids in the current crisis in Asia will carry over to areas of need in other parts of the world as well. Kids Can Make a Difference co-founder Jane Levine told Education World, "The tsunami was a natural disaster that drew the immediate attention of media around the world. In no time at all, images brought home the full magnitude of the disaster to billions of people. There was an outpouring of money from governments and individuals to help those people directly affected.

"Students certainly need to learn about the effects of, and reactions to, the tsunami," Levine said. "However, there are disasters occurring every day that are just as important, but do not generate media interest and excitement, and therefore go unnoticed.

"Every day 34,000 children under five die of hunger or preventable diseases resulting from hunger," Levine noted. "The United Nations (FAO) reports that one in 12 people worldwide is malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of five. They estimate that 3.1 million people die each year from diarrhea, and most of the victims are children. As educators, we should use the tsunami to start a discussion among students about the root causes of hunger and poverty and how they might help."


PEACEFUL Dollar image courtesy of Dennis Gold.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World