Area children eager to contribute to Afghan relief effort
By DONALD BRADLEY - The Kansas City Star
Date: 10/12/01 22:15
Amelia Ellsworth, a third-grader, gets a buck-fifty allowance each week for doing chores and helping take care of her little sister.
"That's if I do everything perfect," she said Friday.
Money is tight some weeks, but Amelia, 8, who attends Sycamore Hills Elementary School in Independence, said she would do what President Bush asked and send a dollar to help buy food and medicine for children in Afghanistan.
The president issued the request to all American children at his news conference Thursday night when he updated the public on the country's military action in Afghanistan.
The Postal Service has established a special ZIP code for youngsters to use in sending contributions.
Students in the Kansas City area and across the country also recited the Pledge of Allegiance in unison Friday at 1 p.m. Kansas City time.
At Oak Park High School in the Northland, activities halted as 1,700 students faced a flag.
"I just kept on thinking about the poor people who lost their family members," said junior Jason Derryberry. "I don't think I can handle losing my mother in a flash."
Most children who were asked Friday said they would support the president's cause and send their dollars. They said they would use birthday money and allowances and even break into piggy banks.
Their reason is simple: Children didn't hijack those planes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing all those people. That was done by a bunch of mean, angry terrorists.
"We don't want to kill the innocent," said Noah Geier, a fifth-grader at Sycamore Hills.
His classmate Monica Potter agreed and said she felt bad for children close to the bombings.
"I'd be really scared every time a plane came over," Monica said.
Noah nodded. "A lot of their parents are probably dead."
The children's only concern was that their money could somehow fall into enemy hands and be used against Americans.
"Ammo," Noah explained.
Karl Metzger, a Leawood parent, had another concern. The dollar drive is good in principle, he said, but "I think it's more of a political statement from Bush than a reaching-out to the Afghan people."
Area Boy Scouts probably will join the cause.
Members have raised money for the American Red Cross and the United Way to aid relief efforts, said Mike Johnson, director of finance services for the Heart of America Council of the Boy Scouts. He said he was confident that members would respond to the president's call as well.
"Scouting has a long history of helping others, and we're certain that once again the youth of the Heart of America Council will support that effort," he said.
Johnson thinks the council will pass more information along to troop leaders.
Carol Stokes, a mother who shopped Friday at Independence Center, said she thought Bush's idea was a good one. "It teaches our kids to have feelings for other people, too," she said.
She knew her 4-year-old son, Ethan, would want to send his dollar, and she hoped his preschool would participate. She was unsure how much Ethan understood until the two of them watched news reports of the bombings.
"God must be really mad with those men," he told her.
Two other Jackson County shoppers, Russ and Georgann Connors, said they liked the idea of the $1 donation but did not want their son, 4, and daughter, 6, to worry about what was going on in Afghanistan.
The couple said they would explain to their children about refugees who need food and homes but would leave out parts about war.
"They need to be kids," Russ Connors said.
North of the river, Sherry Gonzales of Liberty said the dollar donations also would teach the Afghanistan children a lesson.
"I think they need to see what we do in America, that we're not bad people," said Gonzales, whose 6-year-old daughter attends Schumacher Elementary School in Liberty.
Donna Milloy, whose children also attend Schumacher, said teachers had discussed ways to urge students to give their dollars. She expected the school to begin collecting the money next week.
"It will show our kids care," said Milloy, of Liberty. "We have so much, and they have so little."
Ten-year-old Hannah Milloy agreed: "I think it's a good idea, because they don't have a lot of stuff."
To reach Donald Bradley, family and children reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-7810 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
The Star's Benita Williams, Erik Petersen, Barbara Hollingsworth and Nora Coronado contributed to this report.
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