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3,000 join Red Cross walkathon

ABOUT 3,000 people showed up for the 32nd annual fundraising walkathon hosted by the American Red Cross-NMI chapter on Saipan, Tinian and Rota on Saturday.

NMI chapter executive director John Hirsh said on Saipan, about 2,000 people participated in the event.

“It was far beyond our expectations as more people came out and help meet our financial goal,” Hirsh said.

“People understand the mission of the Red Cross in the community. They responded and supported us by participating in this wonderful event,” Hirsh said.

The walkathon’s goal was to raise at least $60,000, the same amount raised last year.

Hirsh said they will announce the total amount raised this year once all the figures are finalized this week, he added.

“We will also announce which school had the most (number of) walkers and which school had the most collected donations.”

About 30 private and public schools participate in the annual event, Hirsh said.

 “The schools and the students’ effort is a reflection of the leadership of the schools and their coordinators. They are teaching the children about giving back. Even if they only have a dollar, they still try to give something for somebody who is less fortunate.”

Oleai Elementary School has raised the most money in the past six years.

This year, OES teacher and coordinator Roselle Carreon said the school started collecting donations for the Red Cross in March.

“We believe in the cause. I told our students why we are doing this.  I told them it is not about receiving all the time. We need to learn how to give because when the time comes all the blessings that they give will come back to them,” Carreon said.

She added that before participating in the fundraising activity, the teachers and coordinators made sure that the students understood why they were participating.

“That motivated them. When they went out and asked people to donate, they could explain why they should donate to the Red Cross.”

In an interview, OES student Francine Ebuen said she asked people for donations because Red Cross helped many people who were affected by Typhoon Soudelor. “Red Cross was there for the people when the typhoon destroyed our homes and when we needed support. Now, it is our turn to give back.”

Last year, Carreon said they were able to raise $13,000 for the Red Cross. This year, they collected around the same amount of money.

For this year’s walkathon, Hirsh said 500 Sails offered canoe rides. Okeanos Marianas also held an open house and walkathon participants, mostly students, learned about the traditional canoe’s parts and their functions.

Hirsh said Saipan Cares for Animals, for its part, brought dogs for adoption. Many children visited the animal area to cuddle and play with the puppies.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/103711-3-000-join-red-cross-walkathon

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