South Charlotte

Week of activities aimed to help Haiti recovery

Students at South Mecklenburg High School are reminding Charlotteans that Haiti still needs help recovering from last year's devastating earthquake.

To raise awareness about the nation's ongoing health care and infrastructural problems, the South Meck student group Sabres Stand Against Indifference has organized activities for students and the community this week, May 16-20.

The money raised from the awareness week will be donated to the local nonprofit, Community Health Access International, which plans to build a second floor onto an overcrowded hospital in the town of Camp Louise, outside Cape Haitian.

The cost of the addition is about $20,000, and money raised will also help build staff housing for hospital employees and roadways to get to the hospital, said junior Cameron Coughlin, 16, co-president of Sabres Stand Against Indifference. The awareness week, called "Linking to Camp Louise," is a school and community effort.

On Monday, students and teachers will help make a mosaic out of colored paper for the hospital, and on Tuesday, the founder of Community Health Access International, Dr. Will Connor, and his wife, Natalie, will speak to students in the auditorium.

They will watch a documentary on Haiti, and student artwork made in response to the earthquake will be on display in the school library.

On Wednesday, the student group is selling T-shirts, and on Thursday night, California Pizza Kitchen at SouthPark mall is donating a portion of its profits to the cause.

The week culminates on Friday with the annual "Walk Against Indifference" at the South Meck track. Students will arrive by 1:30 p.m., and the walk is open to the community from 2:45-5 p.m. Entry is $5.

Dilworth Coffee will sell a special Sabres Stand Against Indifference coffee blend, and half of the proceeds will go to the student group, said co-president senior Andrew Tait, 18.

The student group's efforts for Haiti have been going on for a year now.

Soon after the earthquake hit last year, Sabres Stand Against Indifference had a "Hats for Haiti Day," where students paid $2 to wear a hat during school.

They had a hygiene drive last fall and collected 300 pounds of toiletries for a Haitian orphanage, and Coughlin went with Community Health Access International to deliver them.

They also planned a shoe drive through Samaritan's Feet, and with the help of group member Bailey Sanford, who also planned a shoe drive at his church, they collected 1,000 pairs for Haiti.

Sabres Stand Against Indifference was started four years ago, after South Meck student Anna Sturkey (now a Morehead-Cain scholar at UNC Chapel Hill) planned an awareness week to raise money for Darfur.

The response was great, so Sturkey co-founded the student group.

The second year, they raised money for education in third-world countries, and last year, they supported a housing-first program for the homeless in Charlotte.

In the past, 600-800 people have turned out for the walk, and they hope for a similar turnout this year.

"Haiti is still extremely devastated, and I don't want people to forget," said Coughlin.