With their classmates looking on, Olivia Addington and Matthew Butte hold one of the flyers used in the fundraising campaign. David Grace photo.
GATE CITY — A group of Gate City Middle School students did their part to help others in need recently by raising just over $1,000 to benefit the victims of a deadly typhoon that struck the Philippines last month.
The category 5 storm known as Typhoon Haiyan packed winds of 195 mph when it hit the coast of the Philippines in early November. The storm, which was the deadliest ever to hit the island nation, caused approximately $5.8 billion in damage and killed 6,128 people. Another 1,779 are still missing.
After seeing reports of the devastation in the news, GCMS junior varsity girls basketball coach Stan Rogers asked eighth-grade students Matthew Butte, Olivia Addington, both 13, and Audrey Blake, 14, if they would be interested in doing something to help those suffering in the wake of the storm.
“When I turned the TV on and read the paper and began seeing pictures (of the destruction) and then I saw this one particular lady come on saying they needed help there,” Rogers said. “So when I went to school and told my students in my PE class and they took it and went from there.”
Rogers said the students were also motivated to help by a school employee who is a native of the Philippines.
Butte said he and his classmates began working immediately after speaking with Rogers to reach their goal of raising $1,000.
“He approached us and asked us if we had heard about the devastation in the Philippines and we told him we had, so he asked if we wanted to help raise money for it and we said yeah,” Butte said.
Both Addington and Butte said they had doubts initially that they would be able collect enough donations to raise the necessary amount.
“I didn’t think we could do it when we started,” Addington said. “I thought we could get money, but I didn’t think we could get over $1,000 because I didn’t think everyone would try and participate. They did and it was a really good outcome.”
In addition to posting flyers and setting up collection jars around the high school and middle school complex, the three students enlisted the help of their peers on the junior varsity girls basketball and volleyball teams and those involved with clubs like the FCA and FCCLA.
Local businesses also took part by matching donations raised by the students.
Addington said it took a little over a week to meet the goal after more students got involved.
Once the money was raised, Rogers said Addington, Blake and Butte researched charities they would send the money to before ultimately choosing UK-based OxFam International.
“We wanted it to go to the people for their needs to help take care of things like shelter and food,” Addington said.
Butte and Addington said they learned a lot from the exercise and would be willing to raise money for other causes in the future.
“It was a great experience,” Addington said.
“It made us realize we can achieve whatever we want if we just set our minds to it.”