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School collecting items for Haitian families

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

NORCROSS -- A Gwinnett County elementary school is collecting earthquake relief items for the families of two students of Haitian descent.

Norcross Elementary School is accepting donated clothing, shoes, paper products, toiletries and medical supplies to send to the students' families in Haiti, principal Dora Hill said.

"The purpose of this whole initiative, first and foremost, is to help our two families and their relatives through these donations," Hill said. "The second is the educational value in teaching our students, parents and staff, as well, the true meaning of brotherhood and helping those who are less fortunate in times of disaster on a global level."

Third-grader William Despagne, 9, said nearly 75 percent of his family lives in the country that was devastated Jan. 12 by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake. William said one of his aunts died in the natural disaster, and an uncle is missing. Many of his family members, including his brother, survived.

William said he is saddened by the news images of the country he last visited when he was 3 years old. He said he appreciates the support the community has given the school's relief drive, which began Tuesday.

"I think it's good, because some people lost their homes and don't have no clothes to wear," William said.

The other student with family in Haiti, second-grader Mac-kingsley Laurore, has been in touch with his grandfather and two uncles, Hill said. Mac-kingsley's mother's best friend, however, lost eight family members in the quake.

The school is gathering donated items in an empty portable classroom on campus. Hill said she plans to ship the items at the end of the month, and the school is accepting monetary donations for shipping. Any additional money collected will be donated to the Red Cross, she said.

The school has also planned three fundraisers for the "Norcross Haiti Relief Fund," including a cupcake sale, Hill said.