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January 18, 2005 > FUSD tsunami Relief Contribution Tops $30,000

FUSD tsunami Relief Contribution Tops $30,000

by Gary Leatherman

They might have been content to enjoy the afterglow of the holiday season and swap stories about the gifts they received and parties they had attended, but the students and staff of the Fremont Unified School District came back from their winter vacation Jan. 3 with a much more important issue on their minds: helping provide relief for the victims of the devastating Dec. 26 tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. They immediately set about organizing fundraisers and collection campaigns in every school and office in the district with the hope of presenting a respectable contribution to the American Red Cross at the Jan. 12 meeting of the Board of Education.

They presented a ceremonial check Wednesday for $29,715.61 and a last-minute contribution of $500 that put the total collected for tsunami victims to date at $30,215.61. That amount was in addition to contributions made to other relief agencies and other contributions that are expected from the many district schools and departments that are continuing their fundraising efforts through the end of January.

Superintendent John Rieckewald said, "This is phenomenal. I am so proud of our kids and community." Even though the timeline was so short that many sites barely had time to get fundraising campaigns organized, the response was remarkably generous, he said.

Cleo Garrett, a member of the board of directors of the Oakland Chapter of the Red Cross, accepted the donation. "Your generosity is heartwarming," she said. "Words can't express out heartfelt gratitude for your efforts."

Garrett said the American Red Cross has set a goal of raising $400 million for tsunami relief. So far they have collected about $170 million, she said, so they are pleased with the progress but still very much in need of contributions. Contributions can be made by check made out to the American Red Cross through any FUSD school or by credit card by calling (510) 429-3300.

Some students who contributed to the campaign said they were moved by the tragedy in Indonesia and Sri Lanka because so many of the victims were children. Others said the news stories also made them appreciate how lucky they are to have food and water, enough clothes and a safe place to live.

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