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Basalt students aiding refugees

Tim Mutrie

A class of Basalt Middle School eighth-graders are orchestrating a relief effort to help Kosovar refugees in south-central Europe.

After weeks of reading about the thousands of displaced persons caught up in the so-called “conflict” in newspapers, the 13- and 14-year-olds in Heidi Hausler’s reading class decided they must do something.

The 20 youngsters raised money – through donations from parents, community members and local businesses – and bought goods for health kits/care packages and sent the parcels off to Europe yesterday.

“The kids really feel like they’re actually doing something,” Hausler said. “They have this incredible enthusiasm about the whole project. It’s this energy, like, we can really do something.

“The one thing we stumbled on was that most of the relief organizations, like the Red Cross, are only accepting monetary donations, but we found this organization called the American Friends Service Committee, in Pennsylvania, and they’ll distribute the care packages for us,” Hausler said.

Together, Hausler’s students decided upon what items to include in the packages, she explained. The kits include candles, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, tooth brushes and toothpaste, Tylenol, children’s long underwear, peanuts, crayons, stuffed animals, Kleenex, toilet paper, and assorted clothing and children’s books which had been donated by the community.

In addition, each health kit/care package contains a handwritten letter, offering condolences and goodwill to refugees, authored by one of Hausler’s students.

“The kids voted on what items to send, and we took a big ol’ school bus down to Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs, and each kid was assigned to check on a specific item and price it,” Hausler said of Monday’s shopping effort. “Then we got together and number crunched to figure out how much of what we could afford and bought that many of each item.”

Once back at school, they began to assemble the individual packages.

“We had this huge assembly line, it was hysterical,” Hausler said. “Each kid would stuff one item into the big Zip-Lock bag and then pass it down the line until every bag was full.”

“Everything we could get our hands on we tried to stuff into the packages, but we’re focusing on women and children, because they make up the majority of refugees,” she said.

Even though the students sent off the health kit/care packages yesterday, Hausler said her class is continuing to accept donations and will send additional aid as funds allow.

Monetary donations should be sent to: Basalt Middle School/Care for Kosovo, 51 School St., Basalt, CO 81612. For additional information, contact Hausler at 927-3181.

Above: Eighth-graders at Basalt Middle School assemble care packages for Kosovar refugees. Along with some essential sundries, the packages contain individual notes from the students. Michael Brands photo.


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