Terrace charity helps Japan

Friends of Soma, a local charity organized by Terrace-born teacher Katherine Geeraert, raised $6,500 to date to help Japanese students affected by Japan’s triple tragedy.

Local resident Katherine Geeraert (centre) with students from Soma Higashi High School in Japan.

FRIENDS OF Soma, a local charity organized by Terrace-born teacher Katherine Geeraert, raised $6,500 to date to help Japanese students affected by Japan’s triple tragedy.

After returning to Terrace from Soma, Japan, in mid-March to visit family, Geeraert started the charity with her Japanese students in mind.

The charity organized several community events, and even received surprise donations from local students who undertook various money-raising projects.

Geeraert is now back in Japan, volunteering for local relief efforts and teaching English at Soma Higashi High School, whose students the money will help.

“It is very difficult to give money to people specifically,” said Geeraert. “Because the need is so great for the school and the students.

“Members of Friends of Soma in Japan suggested buying things that will last instead of giving the students money.”

For now, dictionaries have been recommended because it is usually a parent’s job to supply these, and many children attending school are going without.

“Some students haven’t been able to pursue their studies,” she said.

The books cost $25 each and the school needs 200, amounting to about $5,000. The purchase is waiting on board approval. How the rest will be spent is undecided, Geeraert explained. She is waiting until another affordable need is identified.

Ironically, she said, there are donated supplies the school has an over-abundance of. Dictionaries are more expensive, and that is why there is a lack. The money raised through the efforts of local schools is enough to buy 38 of them.

Leadership club students from Thornhill Junior Secondary School, where Geeraert used to teach, organized a dance to raise money for the charity. They donated $453. Veritas Catholic School students raised money through popcorn sales, Suwilaawks Community School students held a penny drive as did students from Uplands Elementary School. Kitimat students from Roy Wilcox Elementary School held a bake sale. Geeraert said the elementary schools raised about $500. Drinks for Soma, held at Villa 46, raised $362, and the community walk brought in $400. Further money was raised through the website and RBC donations. Friends of Soma is still accepting donations.Info is available at www.somafriends.com.

Caledonia Senior Secondary’s Kermode senior boy’s rugby team will be selling t-shirts to raise money and profits will go towards a Soma fund  for orphans of the tsunami.

Geeraert said she’s felt overwhelmed when trying to decide where to help because there is so much need.

“There’s one evacuation centre near Soma that’s housing 3,000 people,” Geeraert said, explaining a grocery store is being built there because there’s a need.

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