Goshen Middle School students are on a mission to raise funds for hurricane relief, and they’re doing it one house-shaped magnet at a time.
That’s the word from Jan Desmarais-Morse, a GMS school counselor who spoke about the fundraising plan, entitled “Houses for Houston”, during the Goshen School Board meeting Monday evening.
According to Desmarais-Morse, the project was sponsored by the GMS school counselors and is a joint effort between the Goshen New Tech Middle School and Goshen International Middle School students in collaboration with New Tech art teacher John Nafziger and New Tech teacher Krista Troyer.
“In response to Hurricane Harvey, students said ‘What can we do? We want to do something to help the victims in Texas,’” Desmarais-Morse said of the origins of the project. “So Mr. Nafziger and I put our heads together, and he created a cookie-cutter template and made house-shaped clay pieces, and students and staff came and decorated them, designed them, and then we fired them, put magnets on the back, packaged them up, and they are to sell at $5 apiece. They are really quite lovely, and the kids were really excited to get together to do it. We did it after school a couple nights during the week.”
While the fundraiser was originally created in response to Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall at Category 4 intensity on Aug. 25 in Rockport, Texas, the students have since decided to expand the fundraiser to include support for hurricanes Irma and Maria as well, Desmarais-Morse explained.
Irma, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall Sept. 10 in the Florida Keys, while Hurricane Maria, also a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall Sept. 20 in Puerto Rico.
According to weather.com, winds for a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale range from 130 mph to 156 mph. Winds of that strength are capable of causing catastrophic damage, the site states.
In a recent report on the financial impact of the hurricanes, Moody’s Analytics reported that the devastation from Harvey and Irma alone may end up costing between $150 billion and $200 billion in damage and lost productivity.
“We thought it would be a good project because we feel really bad that people lost their houses and some of them lost their families and some lost their pets. Maybe this will help those people,” sixth-grader Lyriq Parker said.
Parker described the process of decorating the clay houses, explaining how he and his classmates layered colorful paint over the brown clay. One of his favorites featured a mixture of colors, much like the abstract art he used to paint when he was younger, he explained.
“Back when I was little I used to paint a lot more,” he said. “My first couple weren’t that great, but then I remembered how to paint and they turned out pretty good.”
Fellow clay artist Kelly Garcia held up two of her creations – a green house with squiggly lines and dots of color and a second clay house with sparkles and a red front door and window.
Garcia, a seventh-grader at Goshen Middle School, said she has family in Houston, Texas, and parts of Florida. And although no one from her family was injured in the hurricane, she said she knows there are plenty of people who weren’t so fortunate.
“It’s good to help the community because a lot of people got hurt and lost their homes and probably need help,” Garcia said.
In addition to the remaining magnets, students also have assorted pins available for purchase. The pins — decorated with colorful houses — were part of a previous fundraiser for residents of Haiti, but are now being recycled to benefit families affected by the recent hurricanes.
With the help of other classmates, the students designed 99 magnets. They settled on a $5 charge in hopes that would make the fundraiser affordable for anyone who wanted to donate, Desmarais-Morse said.