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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Hands to Haiti establishes community at WA while helping people in need

Sophia Williams
Junior Hands 2 Haiti president Alana Parks poses for a picture sitting in Hands to Haiti chair

Over the course of the school year, multiple clubs and events have shown Westford Academy is an independent and hardworking community trying to make the world a better place. One of the most rigorous clubs leading this example is Hands to Haiti, which started the year with less than ten members and has grown to 60 members.

Hands to Haiti has raised  thousands of dollars for the Makena Learning Center in Haiti this year by organizing various events and fundraisers to bring money in for the Makena Learning Center a school in Haiti for children. With the increase in participants and events this year, the goal to raise more funds and grow community involvement has become more successful.

Staring out with 10 people, 5 being officers of the club: junior President Alana Parks, junior Vice President Mia Votano, junior Secretary Sophia Krauss, junior Treasurer Lauren Treible and junior Social Media Manager Julianne Frenchette. The club rapidly grew this school year as more people became aware of the clubs initiative.

“The first [meeting] was overwhelming because it was in Dr. McGregor’s room, which is just a regular classroom and there were around 60 people,” Parks said.”We didn’t even have time to take attendance.”

The club has had immense success in raising funds  for the learning center in Haiti even with the setback of losing their primary advisor Mr. Brown half way through the year. But the members quickly adjusted by reaching out to academic tutorial teacher Jessica Elliot to help the club for the rest of the year.

“I was definitely interested. I have been working here for years and I haven’t joined a club yet so I thought it was a good opportunity to get more involved in the school,” Elliot said.” I also really enjoy clubs that are community service driven and I felt that this was a nice way of contributing to Haiti, which needs a lot of help.”

With the size of the club growing so quickly, this opened up opportunities to host more events and fundraisers. The club started off the year with a Boo Grams fundraiser where students could send gift bags with candy to another person by paying an allotted price. Parents could also send gift bags to their children through an online website. The whole club contributed to the fundraiser in a variety of ways.

“More than half of our orders were online using the website, which  had a lot of profit, and the club members were super helpful packing and making the Boo Grams and selling them at lunch,” Parks said.

Later on in the holiday season, Hands to Haiti set up a table at the Holiday Bazaar selling many products provide by the Founder of the Makena Learning Center, Chris Lowe. Lowe had provided the club with bracelets, ornaments and other small goods to sell. The hard work and effort paid off when the club raised $900.

One of their biggest events of the year was the Student vs. Basketball game in March. This required the cabinet to start setting up in December for the event in which a team of teachers and a team of students faced off in a basketball game. Elliot and the Cabinet members were determined to set up the necessary components to ensure the success of the fundraiser.

“First it was a lot of trying to reach out to get a solid teacher team formed. We also had to do a lot with the student team because we wanted to be able to represent all grade levels,” Elliot said. “And [we also had to] make sure there was a variation in skill level because otherwise, the teachers would have struggled,”

The club members also helped out by creating posters before the event to hang up around school to bring attention to the match and also signing up to help out the night of the event. The cabinet also made T-shirts for both the students and teachers for the event.

“[The basketball game] really had a large impact because it got a lot of community awareness that also got administration very involved, which was nice,” Parks said. But it also almost doubled our profits for the year which was also great.”

Now that the school year is coming to a close, the club will begin the process of getting the funds to Haiti. Usually, they would set a check to Haiti so the administration at Makena Learning Center could buy school supplies for the students. However, with gangs controlling the mailing system in Haiti they are planning on sending the funds they raised to Lowe who will buy the school supplies in the United States and ship them to Haiti.

Overall, the club hopes to continue its great success next year planning more events, getting the community involvedand raising more funds for students in Haiti. 

“Next year we’re electing a junior officer who is going to be a younger member of the club,[…] to help take on the reins before we leave,” Parks said.”A big goal of ours is to get our events more organized so we have everything planned out […] like who to email and what to set up and get even more engagement from the community and then get even more members.”

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About the Contributor
Sophia Williams
Sophia Williams, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Sophia Williams and I’m a sophomore at WA. This is my first year on the Ghostwriter as a staff writer and couldn't be more excited! I love to play lacrosse, field hockey and sail in my free time. I've loved skiing as a little kid and I'm co-president of ski club in WA. I can't wait to learn all about journalism and look forward to a great year!

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