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Pyling on Support

Pyle students raise $18,000 for CARE International to benefit tsunami victims; area students of all ages lend support to related causes.

Thomas Pyle Middle School students kept handing eighth-grader Lena Peck money last week. Peck, president of Pyle’s Student Government Association, didn’t even know some of them. “People came up to me and started randomly handing me checks,” she said.

All the money was part of a cash drive Pyle’s SGA initiated last week. Peck, SGA vice-president Peter Enzinna, and faculty advisors Jennifer Thorson and Carrie Endenbaum decided to hold a cash drive.

In less than a week, Pyle’s 1,300 students raised $18,000 for CARE International to benefit victims of the tsunami that followed an earthquake on Dec. 26 and killed more than 150,000 people. Students presented a check to CARE International on Tuesday, Jan. 11 after a single-week fundraising drive.

“We’ve got some fantastic students who really care,” said Pyle Principal Michael Zarchin. “We’re really pleased, with character education being one of the areas this cluster focuses on.”

JUST ONE DAY AFTER Pyle students returned from winter vacation, the collection was underway.

“A lot of people were talking about it,” said Peck. “They were really interested in doing some sort of drive.”

Peck, Enzinna, Thorson and Endenbaum decided to simply “pass the hat” instead of selling bracelets or baked goods. In three days, they raised $7,000. On Friday alone, Pyle students contributed $10,000, and Enzinna thinks he knows why. “There was that video they showed us,” Enzinna said.

On Thursday, as part of the school’s monthly ethics lesson, Pyle students viewed an video assembled by George Martin, a Pyle science teacher. The video featured parts of newscasts demonstrating the effect the tsunami had on children and orphans. “They can always relate best to their peers,” Martin said.

“I think the tremendous outpouring of money really does demonstrate that these students, who have a reputation of being self-indulgent, are not that at all,” said Martin. “They can be very compassionate, giving and caring if they see the need.”

“THERE’S A TON going on,” to support tsunami victims, said Jeff Luse, Walt Whitman High School’s SGA president. “Kids are just coming up with new ideas every day for fundraisers.”

Whitman students put several of these ideas to work and raised an estimated $12,000 for the American Red Cross. There was a different twist on each day. Students donated spare change on Wednesday, cash on Thursday, and checks on Friday.

Whitman’s SGA will also sell the Lance Armstrong Livestrong-style bracelets.

Winston Churchill High School students have joined students from Thomas Wootton High School and other Churchill cluster schools in fundraising efforts, said Catherine Lien, secretary of Churchill’s SGA. “We’re all trying to come together for this. We’re not pitting schools against each other, seeing who can get the most money or the coolest bracelets,” Lien said.

“Whenever something like this happens, wherever you are, you hear people talking about it,” said Jeremy Sherer, president of Churchill’s junior class. “Everyone’s trying to do what they can about it on an individual level.”

Churchill’s student government began a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 10, said Lien, Churchill’s student government secretary. Students will pre-sell Livestrong-style bracelets, and proceeds will go to the Samaritan Home, an Sri Lankan orphanage that was destroyed by the tsunami. Samaritan Home is run by Daylan Sanders, formerly of Bethesda.

“We’re not asking anyone to pay for the bracelets, you just donate whatever you want to,” said Lien, who said a typical student may donate $5, but has seen saw one of her friends donate $50.

Churchill’s junior class extended its sale of beanies, winter hats in the school’s blue-and-green colors that say “CHS ‘06.”

“We wanted to specify exactly where the money would go,” said Lien.