By Suzanne Schmidt
When Rosilyn Dickerson was watching TV with her second-grade son Kyler, she and her son unexpectedly ended up seeing a news segment about the Haiti earthquake.
Even though Rosilyn tried to comfort her son, she said he was still very sad. So they decided to try to find some way to help, which is when they came up with the idea to collect shoes for the people in Haiti.
“He was so subdued and his demeanor had changed so much,” Dickerson said. “He was scared the same thing would happen here. I told him about how fault lines work and that we are not on one here. He seemed to be receptive, but I could tell he was still scared.”
At first Kyler wanted to send his teddy bear, Corduroy, to the people in Haiti to give them something to comfort them, but with the help of his mom he decided to do a shoe drive instead.
“When people get hurt and some people don’t deserve it, I feel bad for them,” Kyler said. “I wanted to send shoes to help support their feet. I wanted to let them know people care. I think when they see them, they will put them on and see how much better walking around can be.”
Rosilyn and Kyler went to his second-grade teacher Hillary Wankelman with his idea and soon the whole school joined in the effort. Through the month of April, parents, students and teachers went through their closets for gently used shoes to donate to the people in Haiti. The school collected 172 pairs of shoes.
“Kyler realized when he saw the people on the TV, they were not wearing any shoes,” Rosilyn said. “He was so excited to be able to help people get shoes. Our church, Without Walls, also had a shoe drive based on his idea. I think these kids are learning real life lessons.”
Hillary Wankelman, second-grade teacher, said the shoe drive went better than she expected.
“It was neat how the kids were affected by what they saw on the news and decided to help,” Wankelman said. “We have not yet decided how we are going to get the shoes and toys over there, but we are going to make sure that they go to the organization that needs it the most.”
Nathalia Filgueira Leon, 9, saw the devastation in Haiti after the earthquake and decided she would like to help bring comfort to the children by giving them stuffed animals. Filgueira Leon is a third-grader in Steve Hughes’ class.
“I saw it on the news and a day later I asked my Mom if I could collect teddy bears,” Filgueira Leon said. “I know when I am upset I like to hold my teddy bear. I think when they see the teddy bears they are going to be happy. I know when I look at my teddy bear, I see all the memories I made with the bear and it makes me happy.”
Jaelynn Collins, 8, is a second-grader in Wankelman’s class. She gave up her teddy bear that she had for four years because she wanted to help the people in Haiti.
“The people in Haiti lost their stuff and many of the kids don’ t have their stuffed animals anymore,” Collins said. “I think it will help them to go to sleep. It was sad to give it up but I am happy it will be helping someone.”
A letter from Kyler will accompany the donations from the school.
“He wrote a letter to the kids in Haiti and we are going to have it translated to go along with the shoes,” Rosilyn said. “It is great to see how one kid can make a difference.
Kyler said he was inspired to write the letter by his mom.
“The letter was about how sad I was that they were injured,” Kylar said. “I said how we are sending them the bears and the shoes to make them feel better. That way if someone in their family is injured they can hug the bears and feel better.”