Raise your hand if you can help Haiti

Vintage Hills school community sends truckload of clothes to earthquake victims

Pleasanton's Vintage Hills Elementary School families and students raised their hands earlier this month and filled a U-Haul truck with summer weight clothing to be shipped to Haiti.

Janel Sloan and Beth Louderback, both parents of Vintage Hills students, developed the "Raise Your Hand" program to bring used items to organizations in need. Following the format of the school's successful Go Green program and with the help of Vintage Hill's Student Leadership, Raise Your Hand encourages families to simplify their lives, clean out their homes of unwanted items and donate them to organizations that will reuse them.

When the earthquake struck Haiti, Sloan and Louderback knew who their first recipients would be. They contacted Sirona Cares, which teams with Sirona Fuels to provide economic, educational and medical support to communities in developing countries. Sirona Cares is coordinating humanitarian aid from Northern California to Haiti along with a massive food shipment to be taken aboard a C100 Coast Guard Cutter.

Throughout the first week of February, students brought their used clothing to their classrooms at Vintage Hills. On the final collection day, a crew of volunteers, including Michelle and Paul Lacourciere from Sirona Cares, worked side-by-side with students to sort and fold all of the clothes. Once the donated items were categorized by size and type, they were put into donated plastic bins and bags that were loaded onto the truck.

"Today, our hands reached all the way from Pleasanton to Haiti," said Sloan, "Everyone, whether they donated clothes, helped for ten minutes or three hours, or just encouraged someone in their efforts, made a difference in someone's life today."

Michelle Lacourciere, director of the Sirona Cares Foundation, said the clothes donated by the Vintage Hills school community will make a big difference to a lot of people. She told of a desperate email she received from a contact in Haiti, describing a man who walked three days from Port-au-Prince to arrive in Hinche with seven naked children. No one could help him because everyone in town had already given all they had to refugees. These clothes, she said, will go directly to people like this.

To help with Sirona Cares' efforts, contact, or visit the organization's blog at for more information.

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Like this comment
Posted by Jose
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

This is a nice gesture and once again shows the generous and caring nature of the USA. At the same time though, there have been many pleas for *Cash* and specifically not donations of food or clothes. There are multiple reasons for this:

- It is very expensive and time consuming to ship stuff to Haiti, especially bulky items like food and clothes.
- Cash allows the people closest to those in need to determine what supplies are most needed. It won't hurt for kids to be naked for a few days, but lack of clean water will kill them.
- Sending cash actually can do double duty; it pays for needed supplies, but just as important it helps stimulate the economy if the supplies can be purchased locally.

Of course, donate only to trustworthy organizations. You can't go wrong with the American Red Cross or USAID.

Like this comment
Posted by JJ
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:07 am

Programs like this will turn our kids into caring, compassionate liberals!!! I fear for our country!!! [Glenn Beck tears]

Like this comment
Posted by Kasey Poet HIllier
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

So proud of you Vintage Hills! My name is Kasey Poet Hillier and I taught at Vintage Hills for 7 years. The Vintage Hills students, parents, and community have always been ready for action and such wonderful examples of what a small community can actually accomplish. I am going to try and do the same thing for my new school, Gravenstein, up in sonoma County. Thank you for the inspiration and I miss you Pleasanton and Vintage Hills- you are amazing--keep up the good work!!!

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