Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Operation Clothes for Haiti

Like most people in the world today, Haiti has consumed most of thoughts and even more of my prayers. A land that was already in bad shape, sadly found itself even more so after a devastating earthquake shook its foundations. So I sat, watching hour after hour of news coverage. Talking with friends and family that were just as concerned as I. Some of which were even scheduled to attend a mission trip there during the first few weeks of February. A couple are still going, many are waiting right now.
However, as I sat watching and visiting, I noticed a few people that were not involved but were very concerned.
My "kids".
When I say my "kids", I mean it in a few different ways. My own son, Isaiah, is very concerned with what is happening. He is only five but he still sees the chaos on TV and asks questions about what is going on. He may not be able to fully grasp the tragedy or the magnitude of it all but he knows that something is not right. He can see it in their faces on TV and he can hear it in the voices of those around him talking about it.
While I have Isaiah trying to figure this whole deal out, I also have another group of "kids" that I spend a great deal of time with.
My fifth grade students.

For many of them the greatest tragedy they have been witness to was September 11, and for most of them it is just a memory that comes up on the actual anniversary. So this, complete and total, destruction of Haiti is something new.

It didn't just shake Haiti. It shook these kids. It left them with questions. The who's, what's, where's and whys. Some of these are much easier to answer than others. Especially when it comes to a room of 10 or 11 year olds in a public school. I can give them most of the information they desire. But there is always the one question left open. Why?
So instead of focusing on that one question we dove in. We had daily updates about what was happening in Haiti. About how people were still be saved, ten days later. About how people from all over the world were going in droves to help out and to try to bring peace to this land.

We even talked about how I was supposed to be traveling there in February but would not be going this time around. The curiosity was endless. There minds were baffled with all of this.

Then a note passed over my computer screen. Wednesday night! The note was from a friend. It went something like this, "There will be a truck leaving for Haiti this Monday morning. Can you help load it up with Children's clothing and other misc. items".
At first I passed right over. My mind focused on the nasty storm that were were to get starting Thursday night and going into Monday morning. "Wow", I said to myself "to get a truck loaded and sent on its way by Monday was going to be an incredible feat". You can see I wasn't getting the hint. This message was sent for me, for my Kids.
On Thursday, as my students started their day with the usual updates about Haiti and other places that message came back to me. It was all I could think about. I had to say something. So, we talked. I told them of the message and a plan was set. We would do a One Day Clothing drive and hope to get a few things to send on the truck. Our goal was to get each kid in our room to bring in at least one outfit that they didn't wear anymore. Everyone has a shirt and pair of pants they don't wear. That would be easy. 30 outfits for Haiti.
Not so fast. I mentioned our little plan to my principal and Operation Clothes for Haiti was in full force. "Why not make it school wide?" was her response.
You kidding? We have one day to do this. That would require a lot of teamwork. So we went to work. My kids dispersed throughout the building and explained the Operation to rest of the student body. The mission was a GO!

We would have a few more bags than originally expected to put on the truck to Haiti.

WRONG! When I arrived at school Friday morning I was greeted by six large garbage bags full of clothes. As the day progressed the numbers multiplied. And kept multiplying. It was wild. What started as a tiny little idea blossomed into almost 5,000 articles of clothing I would imagine. Two local news stations(KELO and KSFY) did stories on the Operation and our local newspaper also sent out a report. It was wild!

By the end of the day we had over 35 industrial sized garbage bags filled with sorted clothing and around 10 large boxes with shoes and other random pieces.

When my kids and I woke up Thursday morning, we all had Haiti on our hearts. We all knew we wanted to do something to help. We just didn't know what.
When my kids and I all fell asleep on Friday night, we all had Haiti on our hearts. We all knew we HAD done something to help. We just didn't know how Incredible it would feel!!


  1. Thanks for sharing this neat story. God let you and your students have a tangible part in being His hands and feet. They will never forget this. Hope the truck was able to get loaded even with the awful weather you guys keep having.

  2. Jon.....This story blesses my heart so! His heart and hands extended to the desperate and hurting. That's what He's always about....healing, restoring, comforting and bring relief from burdens. You and your kids and those who organized this truck of clothes are precious and powerful example of His compassion and mercy!!

    Thank you for sharing.