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Student raises $2,000 for school supplies in Haiti

Sophomore used first time abroad as a chance to give back

High school sophomore Carter West poses with Haitian kids after purchasing nearly $1,000 in school supplies and textbooks. Contributed photo
High school sophomore Carter West poses with Haitian kids after purchasing nearly $1,000 in school supplies and textbooks. Contributed photo

By Kate Hayden

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High school sophomore Carter West had a year to prepare for his two-week trip with Homes for Haiti this past January, his first mission trip out of the U.S. So he decided to raise some extra funds for school supplies.

“We did a pancake breakfast and raised $2,000,” West said. “Then we went to a meeting for (West Quality Air Systems – Rainbow Distributor)…we raised 200 boxes of Tylenol and 60 pairs of shoes.”

He also held a raffle with 300 people in attendance –– “they wanted the money to go help buy school supplies,” West said.

Every penny went to the cause once West and his team made it to the Haiti orphanage; West and the principal packed up the principal’s Suburban and drove to a town supply store –– an experience very different from the U.S., West said.

“We had to go through a couple different gates. It was like a big warehouse, like a Sam’s Club. You could buy everything in bulk,” West said. “You tell them what you want and they get it. We loaded it into the back of the Suburban, and took it back…it’s in their supply room, and if you need something you can go in there and get it.”

The team spent about $682 on school supplies, and an additional $310 on about 30 textbook sets for kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms. Pencils, books and hundreds of other items were brought back in one trip to the orphanage –– although it was a little tight, West said.

“We were sitting with boxes in our laps. It was full,” West said.

West, with no previous construction experience, also worked with the Homes for Haiti construction crew, building a series of 10 SafeTHomes as classrooms and housing for orphanage staff in 90 degrees, 75 percent humidity.

“It was interesting to know how hard they work, and how much you can do in a day. The term ‘many hands make light work’ was really applicable down there,” West said.

The experience was enlightening for West, who saw a different way of life then the one he lives in Iowa.

“One of the most surprising things was, we have all this stuff back here and they had souvenirs that we could buy. It was hard buying stuff just to sit on a shelf when they don’t have anything,” West said. “When you come back, you can get anything you want. If you want water, you can go to the fridge and get a cup of water. There, you have to pay for everything, and you don’t get much for what you pay for.”

 

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