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Students raise funds for Haiti

Children with the Bethel Tutorial Program donated $418 to the American Red Cross Tuesday, which will be used to assist the relief efforts for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Children with the Bethel Tutorial Program donated $418 to the American Red Cross Tuesday, which will be used to assist the relief efforts for earthquake victims in Haiti.

ALBANY -- Rather than using extra cash to buy cookies and candy, a group of students sacrificed their February allowances to a good cause.

A group of roughly 16 students connected with the Bethel Tutorial Program on Tuesday donated $418 to the American Red Cross to assist with the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Throughout the month of February, the program's students contributed money to a "Yes, We Can Make a Difference" jar for the effort.

"They sacrificed doing some personal things," said Sandra Webb, co-director of the program. "They were very excited about bringing in their allowance. They did a very good job. They generously gave what they had."

The cause was inspired from a writing project the students had.

"In the process, they decided they had funds to give," said Vette Dunson, co-chair of the tutorial program.

Gerald Williams, a representative of the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross, accepted the donation for the organization.

An earthquake, measuring a 7.0 magnitude, hit Haiti on Jan. 12. last month, the Haitian government was reporting that 217,000-230,000 were dead, an estimated 300,000 had been injured and that roughly 1 million had been left homeless.

"Those people are destitute," Williams said. "They are probably the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere."

The funds donated by the students will be sent to the organization's national office, and from there it will be spent on blankets and medical supplies. Approximately $250 million have been raised to provide humanitarian aide since the earthquake struck.

The Bethel Tutorial Program, which is under the direction of Bethel AME Church, is an after-school program that provides homework assistance to students in grades 2-5. Students live in or near the Bethel Housing Complex in East Albany. Most attend Jackson Heights Elementary School. Eight to 10 adults volunteer as tutors.

"We are really delighted the young people took an interest and decided it was important to do something," said the Rev. Ernest Davis Jr., senior pastor of the church. "We are really excited about it."