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12-year-old Ben Halperin 12-year-old Ben Halperin at home with the school supplies he raised to help schoolkids in Haiti. (Photo courtesy Isaac Salant)

Haitian Earthquake Spurs Maryland Teen to Action

Student raises money to help rebuild school

By Isaac Salant | February 8 , 2011

When 12-year-old Ben Halperin heard about the earthquake in Haiti, he said he wanted to help. He felt sorry for the kids and searched the Internet to find out what he could do. That's how he learned about Edeyo, a school destroyed by the earthquake.
    
He read about the school and learned that it was special because it was for those children who couldn't afford to go regular school. It even gave them two meals a day. After Ben learned about Edeyo, he decided to help the school for his community service project that his synagogue, B'nai Israel Congregation of Rockville, Maryland, requires of all students about to celebrate their bar mitzvahs.
        
"I felt terrible for the kids in Haiti, so I knew I needed to help," said Ben. His goal is to raise enough money "so the kids can get out of the tents that they are currently learning in and learn in a school building."

So far, Ben has raised $1,845 for the school, which educates 300 kids.

"The school will be built as soon as they find land and once the building codes have been established by the Haitian government," Ben said. "I am going to try to visit when they find land and start building the school."

Ben said he was really happy when he saw so many people give to the cause.

"It was wonderful that so many of my friends and relatives wanted to help support the people of Haiti," he said.

Ben also does other volunteer work. On Thanksgiving, he helped homeless people and he also prepared a picnic at homeless shelter. He also helped out his old teachers at his elementary school.

Ben said that his project shows that anyone can have an impact in the world if they put their mind to it.

"My lesson for kids to take out of this project is that anyone can make a difference, big or small," he said.

CRISIS IN HAITI: ONE YEAR LATER

More than a million people remain homeless and schools are just now being rebuilt in Haiti a year after the country's capital city was devastated by a major earthquake on January 12, 2010. Scholastic Kid Reporters continue their reporting on the earthquake with stories about how people are continuing to help the embattled country in the Crisis in Haiti: One Year Later Special Report.

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