Youths work for Haiti relief

The children of Peace Lutheran Church have Haiti on their minds. Tonight, they will lift their voices in song, share their hopes for the Caribbean country and offer the community a chance to help.

Peace for Haiti
Left to right, Sara Garland, 12, Kevin Garland, 9, and Camryn Snider, 9, decorate discs of plastic for suncatchers Sunday at Peace Lutheran Church in Poplar. Suncatchers, collages and other artwork by the children will be sold tonight during "A Child's Hope for Haiti," which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at the church. The event includes a Haitian meal, silent auction, bake sale and musical program with all proceeds going to relief efforts in Haiti. (Maria Lockwood)

The children of Peace Lutheran Church have Haiti on their minds. Tonight, they will lift their voices in song, share their hopes for the Caribbean country and offer the community a chance to help.

"We can make a change," said Kevin Garland, 9.

The youth know some of the problems Haitians face.

"They just got hit by an earthquake and they don't have a lot of money," said Annabelle Pflug, 8. Their parents have died and they're running out of food, she said.

So they're raising money for relief efforts during "A Child's Hope for Haiti."


The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a bake sale, silent auction, art and craft sale and a sampling of Haitian food. At 7 p.m., a musical program featuring the children of Peace, teen praise band "The Sacrifice," an old-fashioned hymn sing and musicians from the University of Wisconsin-Superior begins.

We're doing it for the children, the children of Haiti," said Noah Laughlin, 11.

"And the grownups, too," Annabelle added. "All the people of Haiti."

The idea for the event crystallized three weeks ago when adults from the congregation were discussing the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

"We were talking about how we felt emotionally affected by this," said Beth Pflug.

Their children were listening. Sensing a teachable moment, parents asked youngsters what the church could do.

"We had ideas but we put it back on them," said Traci Laughlin.

Pflug's daughter, Annabelle, suggested a bake sale. While talking with other youth, they decided to add crafts. Music was a natural fit.


"It was really cool listening to kids that age - 8 years old - come up with these ideas," said Janice Swenson.

Relief efforts like texting $10 to a fund are great, Pflug said, but they don't touch lives.

"We really wanted a way to connect them to the people of Haiti," she said.

"We're trying to teach stewardship and global awareness for kids," said Greg Gullicksrud, pastor.

The youth rose to the challenge, wrapping candy roses, learning new songs, writing prayers and creating artwork for the auction.

Local businesses and organizations chipped in, too.

"It had to be a walk of faith," Laughlin said. "You let people know we have no time, deadlines; what can you do right now?"

Super One donated food for the supper - pumpkin soup, rice and beans, fried plantains, sweet potato banana bread pudding and orange mango juice. Gary and Kelly Reed of Reed Graphics provided free T-shirts and posters. They also spent one Sunday creating collages and magnets with the children.


Area gardening centers, restaurants, artists and banks answered the call for silent auction items. The UWS music department bolstered the program with acts - a men's ensemble, soloists David Greenberg from Poplar and Kylie Cochrane from Superior and a strings group.

"It's a really good lesson in community giving and how people will reach out," Laughlin said. The church stepped up, and people with generous hearts delivered.

Sunday, the children of Peace practiced old standards like "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light of Mine" as well as new songs that touch on the need in Haiti.

"All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family," the children sang.

Between musical acts, the youngsters will stand up and share their hopes for Haiti with the crowd.

"I hope you get better. You guys are strong to go through all of the damage you guys went through," wrote Kevin. "I hope something good happens to you."

"I hope that more orphans get adopted and that they get to build their city back up so the city will still exist," wrote Annabelle.

Camryn Snider, 9, shared a wish for the entire population.


"I hope that the people of Haiti's dreams will come true," she said.

Earthquake survivors are still standing in line for hours to get a bit of food - a loaf of bread or a cup of rice and beans. For the children of the United States, who have so much, it may be impossible to understand that the children in Haiti have nothing, adults in the congregation said. The challenge was to bring the tragedy home, but retain a sense of hope for the youth.

"All you can do is what you can do," Laughlin said. "Really, this is what one little person can do."

Proceeds from "A Child's Hope for Haiti" will be given to organizations where 100 percent of donations go to relief efforts. The church is located at 9523 E. Highway 2 in Poplar.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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