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Walnut student driving force behind Haiti relief coin drive

POSTED March 19, 2010 11:27 p.m.
Third grader Tanner Blankenship was sad when he heard about the 7.0 earthquake that rocked the town of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Wanting to help, he asked his mom if they could adopt a child from Haiti.
Although adoption was out of the question, his mom did help him find a way to assist those in need suffering from the January natural disaster.
Blankenship decided to put together a coin drive at his school to raise money so he could send it to the people in Haiti.
“I wanted to do a donation about it so they can get their country back,” Blankenship said. “They need food and a home so they can live in a home and not outside with all the mosquitoes and black widows.”
His heart-felt project started March 2 when Walnut Elementary School Assistant Principal Robin Swartz sent out his hand-written donation request letter in the school’s weekly announcements.
“I have been watching T.V. and they show a lot of people giving things and money to help the people of Haiti and my sister Morgon and my wish is to help them too,” Blankenship wrote in his letter. “I have money from collecting can, and some money my mom is giving us, and thought that if my friends at Walnut could share a little, we could send more money to help many boys and girls like us.”
His letter jump started a coin drive at the school that has been running for two weeks now, Swartz said. There is a jar in all 34 classrooms and the drive will conclude around April 1, right before spring break.
All of the money will be donated to the Salvation Army, where 100 percent of the money will be sent to Haiti, Swartz said.
Blankenship said he is thinking about splitting up the funds raised at his school to send half of it to the people in Chile where an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Feb. 27.
So far, it is not known how much money has been raised, but Blankenship said he is hoping to raise $10 billion to send over to Haiti.
“The sky’s the limit,” Swartz reassured him.
Blankenship is thinking if each class raises $10 then they would have a total of $340, which will be enough to buy a home for the people in Haiti, he said.
Blankenship said he is also looking forward to putting his math skills to good use when he counts out all the money his school raised.
“I can learn and see how much we got to help Haiti,” he said.
Even with his coin drive, Blankenship is pretty set on a new brother or sister from Haiti. He said he is even willing to share his room with a child from Haiti when his mom finally says yes for the adoption.   
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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