Misleny with relief kits
Leon Bauman

Misleny Guzman-Morena, 10, helped organize a relief kit drive at Chandler Elementary School to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti. Each relief kit contains bath soap, shampoo, laundry soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath towels, combs, fingernail clippers, adhesive bandages and sanitary pads.

When Misleny Guzman-Morena, 10, received a call from her cousins in New York talking about the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, she knew she wanted to do something. Guzman-Morena, a fourth grader at the time at Chandler Elementary School in Goshen, Indiana, approached her school counselor, Leon Bauman, to see how they might respond.

Together they decided to collect supplies for relief kits through MCC, which were being distributed to those in Haiti affected by Hurricane Sandy, the same storm her cousins experienced in New York.

Guzman-Morena and Bauman put one bucket in each of the elementary school classrooms, plus one in the school office. Guzman-Morena also went on the school’s video announcements to talk about the project and to encourage people to donate. “Lots of kids started wanting to find out what stuff they should bring,” she said. She spoke to some of the classes and answered questions about the project.

“It’s a good chance to enlarge their world,” said Bauman. “This was the same storm in Haiti that hit the United States. Part of the process of helping others is learning about how we’re connected.”

The students, faculty and staff were very supportive of the project, including Principal Roy Hufford. Bauman had led a similar collection project following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

“We’ve done enough of these types of projects that the teachers got behind things right away,” said Bauman. “Many of the families in our schools aren’t in a position to be able to donate supplies. But if they couldn’t bring supplies, they could help pack the kits and help with the project in that way.”

Although it took some time and organization to get it off the ground, Guzman-Morena encourages other young people to participate in similar projects. “People should get involved,” she said. “If they’re trying to find a way to help someone, it’s a great thing to do. If you want to help someone, get out and do it!”

In addition to collecting supplies, Guzman-Morena and Bauman organized a hat day where students and teachers could wear a hat during school in return for donating a quarter to the project. This raised $150 to buy additional supplies, and in all, the school put together 16 complete relief kits.

“It feels so good when you help people who need all these supplies,” said Guzman-Morena. “When you have what you need, you can embrace the happiness and share it with others.”