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Excitement over New Orleans Saints bolsters donations for Haiti

Posted on Jan 22, 2010 in Local Issues, National Issues, Sports

By Robert Rhoden, The Times-Picayune January 22, 2010, 6:22PM saints.jerseys.jpgELLIS LUCIA / TIMES-PICAYUNELee Road School students and teachers participate in a fundraising event for Haitian earthquake victims Friday. Any student or teacher making the monetary donation were allowed to forgo school uniforms and wear the black and gold Saints colors and jeans. Across St. Tammany Parish, agencies and students pitched in to raise money for victims of the earthquakes in Haiti, invoking the memories of similar assistance that came to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. In the schools, the drive provided an opportunity to teach the value of giving and parlayed student excitement over this weekend's Saints' game into donations. Slidell Police and Slidell Memorial Hospital kicked off a fundraising drive Friday morning to benefit Operation Blessing, a group that arrived in the area several days after Katrina to provide food, medical attention and even assistance removing tree limbs from houses. "During Katrina, Operation Blessing was one of the first to help," Slidell Police Chief Freddy Drennan said. "Everyone wants to do something to help," he said. The group is on the ground in Haiti now and just finished setting up a water purification system at one of the country's hospitals, Drennan said. Anyone who wants to donate can bring checks to the Slidell Police Department, 2112 Sgt. Alfred Drive, or to the hospital's Human Resources Department at 1111 Gause Blvd. Members of the police department will also be collecting checks, and Drennan said anyone who wants to donate can just "flag down an officer." Because of the nature of the fundraising drive, officers will not be accepting cash donations, Slidell Police spokesman Capt. Kevin Foltz said. St. Tammany public school students and school officials also spent the day raising money for the American Red Cross, mainly through a donation drive that allowed students to ditch their typical school uniforms Friday in favor of black and gold attire in exchange for a $1 donation, public schools spokeswoman Meredith Mendez said. "Superintendent (Gayle) Sloan thought it was important for us to come up with a special project to help the people of Haiti because after Katrina we got so much help from all across the country and around the world," Mendez said. Lee Road Junior High School near Covington, which upped the ante by asking $2 of each student, raised about $4,000 through the effort and is also selling passes that will allow students and employees to wear jeans next week, Mendez said. School system officials had not yet tallied the total amount raised by the drive, which involved students, faculty and staff at all public school facilities, Mendez said. However, she noted that in addition to helping the victims of a disaster the effort also taught students a valuable lesson about assisting those in need. Mandeville Middle School will also hold a garage sale next weekend to benefit the fundraising effort. Catholic schools also held events to raise money and collect goods. Students at Pope John Paul II Catholic High School raised about $1,000 for relief efforts in a similar fundraiser Friday, according to school officials. The event, planned by the senior class officers and the Student Council, allowed students to dress in Black and Gold in exchange for donations, which were turned over to St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church to help the people of Haiti. At St. Scholastica Academy in Covington, students were encouraged to dress in Black and Gold in exchange for donating to a Haiti relief fund or bringing in canned goods for a food bank, according to the school. Jeff Adelson can be reached at jadelson@timespicayune.com or 985.645.2852.

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